BATON ROUGE — Central Catholic was hot and cold throughout its exhibition game with Central of Baton Rouge Saturday.
Fortunately for the local squad, it made the plays when it needed to in a 44-37 victory in the Scotlandville/Madison Prep Hall of Fame Classic at Baton Rouge Community College.
While the Eagles raced out to as much as an 11-2 lead to begin the game, Central came roaring back and by the end of the first quarter, had cut the deficit to 13-12 on a three-pointer by Terrell Chatman as time was winding down.
Central Catholic’s lead could have been bigger, but the Eagles missed several easy shots near the basket in the quarter.
While Central Catholic maintained its lead in the second quarter, it could not extend it more than five points as Central had answers on the offensive end.
A bucket by Justin Jemison with less than a minute cut Central Catholic’s lead to 25-24 at the half.
“We came out very lethargic, not ready to play, and they came out and stuck it to us, but our second group came back and gave us some energy and (people) started making some shots (in the first half),” Central coach Ron Lewis said.
While Central scored the first bucket of the second half about a minute into the third quarter for a 26-25 advantage and later extended its lead to 29-25 via a three-pointer by Cameron Brooks with more than five minutes remaining, that was the last bucket Central would score in the quarter.
Central Catholic didn’t fare much better as the Eagles’ first three points of the quarter came at the free throw line.
Dontrell Brown’s two free throws with less than five minutes remaining cut the Central lead to 29-28.
The Eagles didn’t get their first field goal of the second half until Lamar Grogan’s bucket with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter following consecutive misfires at three pointers by the Eagles.
The basket gave Central Catholic the lead for good at 30-29.
“We got tired legs right now,” Central Catholic coach Ree Case said following the game, the second in as many days for both the Eagles and Central. “When we played in the first quarter, it’s because we were fresh. We just got tired in the second (and) third quarter, but sometimes you just got to win.”
Central Catholic, whose offense relies on three-point shooting, had little luck connecting on treys during the game as the squad hit just two, one by Brown for the Eagles’ first points and another by Nick Case with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter to extend the Eagles’ lead to 33-29.
In the fourth quarter, Central Catholic jumped out to as much as a 40-33 lead following a three-point play by Brown, who made a basket and subsequent free throw after being fouled on the play.
Just like it had in the third quarter, Central struggled to make baskets in the fourth quarter as the squad didn’t get its first field goal until Jordan Williams connected on a shot to cut the Central Catholic advantage to 40-35 with less than two minutes remaining in the ball game.
“In the second half, those same shots we were making in the first half just weren’t falling,” Lewis said.
While Central Catholic turned the ball over twice late, giving Central a chance to cut into the Eagles’ 40-35 lead, Central could not convert.
The Eagles made enough free throws down the stretch to pull out the victory.
“I thought the second half we defended extremely well,” Case said. “To hold a team like that to 13 points in a half to me is great defense. We made enough shots. We made some big shots and we made free throws down the stretch.”
Central Catholic will return to action Tuesday when it hosts Vandebilt Catholic in nondistrict play. Junior varsity boys’ action is set for a 5 p.m. start, while varsity boys’ play will follow the girls’ 6 p.m. contest.