Basketball: Ball movement key for St. Mary’s (AZ) in win over Country Day at Sugar Bowl tourney

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WESTWEGO – St. Mary’s (AZ) had an interesting day to start the 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic.

The Knights only arrived in the New Orleans area on Thursday morning. They had to quickly prepare for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff against Country Day.

Despite the late arrival, St. Mary’s Head Coach Damin Lopez wanted his players to have fresh legs. They did. The Knights set the tone in the post and had tremendous ball movement in a 68-34 victory over Country Day on Thursday night at Alario Center.

St. Mary’s (7-5) got things going with consecutive slam dunks by Jeremiah Cherry, who scored the first eight points for the Knights to start the game. Evan Nunez stopped the bleeding for Country Day (7-7) but St. Mary’s held a 14-5 lead in the end of the first quarter.

Styles Phipps heated up next, scoring 10 points for the Knights in the second period. He sliced and diced the Cajuns with consecutive driving layups.

St. Mary’s extended their lead to 31-15 by halftime despite Jordan Trahan layup at the buzzer.

Phipps and Kenny White extended the Knights’ dominance coming out of the break. Phipps tallied eight points in the third quarter.

“We wanted to get into our press, make some stops and get to our bigs,” said Phipps. “Getting good practice on ball movement and good spacing gets our guys open.”

White knocked down a pair of three pointers, scoring 10 points in the quarter as St. Mary’s had doubled up Country Day by the start of the final quarter, leading 52-26.

St. Mary’s had four players scoring in double figures led by Phipps with 20 points. Cherry finished with 16 points and five rebounds. White added 14 points. Garrison Phelps had 12 points.

“We wanted to get guys out there quickly and get their legs moving. I thought my kids did a good job maintaining the defensive pressure for the entire game,” said Lopez. “Phipps’ IQ is off the charts. I can tell him how to handle certain situations once and he picks it up so easy. His game continues to grow, and we’re excited to have him at St. Mary’s.”

Trahan led Country Day with 11 points and three rebounds.

“We like to play the best, hopefully to be the best. They were a little too much tonight,” said Country Day head coach Mike McGuire. “We have to get more balance, and everybody has got to play better.”

St. Mary’s advanced to the Boys National Bracket Quarterfinals to face Newton (GA) on Friday at 4 p.m.

Country Day will take on John Curtis in the conciliation bracket Friday, also at 4 p.m.

Area Prep Basketball Results from Thursday, Jan. 6

Beaumont United (TX) 73, Sophie B. Wright 49
Chalmette 48, McDonogh 35 37
East Jefferson 57, Parkview Baptist 41
Ellender 64, Holy Cross 53
Family Christian 59, Riverside Academy 37
Florida State University High 71, Karr 45
French Settlement 63, Lutcher 53
Jewel Sumner 61, Mount Hermon 24
Lee (AL) 63, Landry 42
Math, Civics & Sciences (PA) 66, St. Augustine 40
Newton (GA) 77, John Curtis Christian 53
Northlake Christian 96, Ascension Catholic 57
Ridge View (SC) 49, Archbishop Shaw 46
St. Mary (AZ) 68, Country Day 34
Westminster (FL) 48, Archbishop Hannan 37

Amite 58, Mount Carmel Academy 28
Dominican 38, Ben Franklin 36
John Curtis Christian 59, Northshore 30
Karr 48, St. Thomas More 45
Lafayette 63, Ellender 22
McMain 24, Booker T. Washington 23
St. Louis Catholic 58, Ponchatoula 54
Ursuline Academy 44, St. Martin’s Episcopal 38
Walker 52, Lafayette Christian 43

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