A lightning fast start and tireless defensive effort carried Lafayette past St. Pius X on Friday.
Lafayette got ahead early and never let go of the lead, earning a 73-53 rout of the Warriors at Lafayette High School.
Right from the tip-off, the Fighting Irish, who had the height advantage, made their game plan clear — dominate the paint and don’t give the Warriors an inch. As soon as senior Zach Langley hit a mid-range jumper on the opening possession, Lafayette started their full court press.
Head coach Kevin Bristol says that cycling players allows for the team to continuously pressure the opponent.
“That’s why we play so many kids,” Bristol said. “(We) start to speed you up, you start to turn over the ball. That’s how we are.”
Like usual, Bristol spread out the playing time, as the starting five came out mid way through the first quarter; but not before Langley already had ten points on the board. Both teams came to play early; as Irish had a 26-17 lead after eight minutes of play.
The game had a much different feel when the Lafayette starting five were in the game, as they combined for 36 of the teams 44 points in the first half as opposed to the 21 from St. Pius.
Lafayette went into halftime with a 44-32 halftime lead as a result.
Bristol noted how crucial it was for his starters to set the tone.
“We always talk about how that first quarter is so important,” Bristol said. “We talked to the kids about ‘the pressure that we do in the first quarter, we’ll see the benefits of it in the fourth.’”
After a high-scoring, relatively clean first half, the third quarter was a polar opposite. 13 fouls were called, as well as a technical foul on Pius head coach John Coakley. Lafayette had some sloppy turnovers, but were able to contain everything the Warriors; and a buzzer beating corner three from Pius’ Max Ervie made it a 55-42 game heading into the final quarter.
Coakley was proud of how his team hung in despite the size disadvantage.
“I thought for the most part we played pretty well,” Coakley said. “I thought we got to the paint, and executed and made some plays.”
In the fourth quarter, the Irish starters kept their foot off the gas, simply wearing out the Warriors; and Lafayette was able to cruise to the victory. Longley led all scorers with 18, while senior Try’Shon Page was close behind with 14. Junior Chase Wilcox led the Warriors with 12.
With yet another win, the Fighting Irish (17-6) continue to build momentum nearing the postseason. Bristol is eager to get another shot at Kearney, whom they lost to by six the last time they played.
“We’re glad to get another shot at them,” Bristol said. “We like where we sit.”