Second quarter run lead Cougars over Cardinals in regional tournament
An 18-0 run to close the first half helped the No. 11 Resurrection Christian Cougars roll to a 78-56 win over the No. 22 Grand Valley Cardinals Friday night at Coal Ridge High School in the 3A regional tournament.
Prior the run, Grand Valley gave Resurrection Christian all it could handle in the first-round matchup as the Cardinals jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, thanks to a 3-pointer from senior Angel Garcia and a floater in the lane from junior Alex Cornejo.
The Cougars quickly snapped out of their slow start and went on an 8-0 run to take an 8-5 lead as junior Jackson Romero heated up, scoring 6 points on three driving layups.
Grand Valley stopped the first-quarter run with another runner from Cornejo, but a 3-pointer from Cougar senior Sparky Morris sent Resurrection Christian into the second quarter with a 14-7 lead.
Again, the Cardinals didn’t blink.
The Cardinals received layups from senior Indra Griggs and an impressive twisting and-1 putback layup by Garcia, making it a 19-12 game. Freshman guard Emilio Garcia then hit a 3-pointer for the Cardinals, making it 19-15 midway through the quarter. The 3-pointer by the freshman guard was big for the Cardinals because it got their best scorer going in the biggest game of the season. With the Cougars focusing on Garcia a bit more after his first 3-pointer, it opened the lane up more for Cornejo, who hit two layups to make it 25-19 before Garcia drilled a deep 3-pointer, making it 25-22 to put a scare into the Cougars.
Taking a quick timeout to regroup, the Cougars turned it on from there as Morris hit a 3-pointer, junior Reece Johnson hit two consecutive layups, Morris hit another 3-pointer, Romero hit two free throws and a layup, and Johnson closed the half with back-to-back buckets, leading the Cougars on an 18-0 run to race into the half with a 43-22 lead over the Cardinals.
The run didn’t stop at the half either.
Resurrection Christian came out in the second half with two quick buckets from Johnson and sophomore Zach Cook, making it a 47-22 game before the Cardinals got back on the board with a 3-pointer from sharpshooting senior Wade Weise that made it 47-25.
Cougar junior Juse Howell and junior Ethan Reeser hit a pair of 3-pointers later in third quarter while Garcia hit a driving layup and a free throw to try and rally the Cardinals, but as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, Resurrection Christian held a 59-31 lead.
Grand Valley senior Joseph Garcia tried his best to rally his teammates by starting off the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and a driving layup that made it 59-36. Junior Luis Magallenes hit a jumper, Cornejo hit two free throws and junior Blade McCormick split a pair of free throws to make it a 61-41 game, but Resurrection Christian was too much down the stretch.
Making his return to Coal Ridge, former Titan Jared Whitaker, now a junior at Resurrection Christian, came off the bench for the Cougars and scored 8 fourth-quarter points, helping the Cougars close out the 22-point win.
In the loss, Grand Valley saw Emilio Garcia lead the way with 14 point, while Cornejo added 12 points. Weise chipped in with eight points. For Resurrection Christian, Romero led the way with 16 points, while Johnson added 12 points. Reeser and Morris added 11 points each.
Resurrection Christian squares off with Coal Ridge Saturday at 1 p.m. in the regional championship game.