With the season being just a week old, teams are still trying to find their legs. For Owensboro Catholic, the Aces have had to find their legs quicker than others as they’ve now played three of the last four days but winning cures all with Catholic now 4-0 for the first time since 2018 after taking down McLean County for their 5th-straight 3rd Region All “A” Classic Tournament Championship on Monday at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
Catholic held the Cougars to just on field goal in the fourth quarter as the Aces used a big second half to down McLean County 58-38.
“They (McLean) had a nice gameplan,” OC coach Tim Riley said. “They said we’re going to let you take quick three’s, we’re going to give them to you and if you don’t hit them, we’re going to have a shot.
“We shot quick, didn’t make them. We were open but they were willing to take that chance.”
Catholic trailed 11-0 after the first frame but bounced back in the second to carry a 25-20 lead into the half.
It was then the game took a turn.
“Second half, we were a little more patient. Had a little more ball movement,” Riley said. “Got them in some foul trouble and started making some plays.”
The Aces held a lead going into the fourth and then slammed the door shut on the Cougars as McLean finished with just one field goal in the final frame.
Catholic did several things well throughout the game but one was their play out of timeouts.
On three separate occasions Monday, the Aces hit a 3-pointer out of a timeout with sophomore Parker Gray connecting on a couple of those as he finished with nine points on three 3-pointers.
Riley said they don’t draw up anything special during timeouts but Gray has been on a tear off the bench.
“One thing we did was we brought Parker in and he’s as hot as a firecracker,” he said. “We got him some shots coming out of them and that’s a big one.”
Lone Ace senior Gray Weaver finished with a game-high 19 points while Brian Griffith continued his strong play to start the season as the junior added 17 points in the win.
Of Griffith’s 17 points, nine of them came at the charity stripe as he helped extend the Ace lead in the second half.
After leading Catholic in scoring a year ago, Griffith said he was ready to step up this season.
“I wanted to be more of a leader, play more defense,” he said.
Junior Ji Webb finished with just six points as the Cougars had a plan for stopping the Catholic post player.
“They did a nice job of surrounding Ji and taking him out of the game,” Riley said. “We didn’t do a very good job of getting the ball moving and getting it to him in the right spots. We need other guys to make plays so people don’t chase him.”
Griffith said they talked about what to do in the second half and he knew the plan would eventually work after they limited him and Webb at times.
“We knew what defense they were in,” he said. “They were trying to take me and Ji away. Coach told me and Ji to do more ball screens and get our shots up and get our teammates involved.”
Griffith, Weaver, Webb and a multitude of others have stepped up on offense for the Aces this season. Griffith said it makes them much harder to deal with with so many weapons.
“It’s nice because if a team tries to take away me, I know I got other teammates that can help score,” he said. “Then when they worry about them, I can finally get my shots up. It works out perfect.”
The win now gives Catholic three wins in four days as they beat University Heights Academy on Friday then Madisonville-North Hopkins on Saturday.
Riley said he knew it’d be a tough stretch but he learned something about his team.
“Toughness,” he said. “I don’t think we had our legs but right now with Covid, you need to play when you get a chance to play so that’s what we did.”
Catholic has a few days off before it hosts 2nd Region foe Lyon County on Friday at the Sportscenter.
Owensboro Catholic 58, McLean County 38
MC (3-1) 11 9 13 5–38
OC (4-0) 9 16 14 19–58
MC: Travis Phillips 4, Tyler Larkin 2, Jayson Floyd 7, Bryce Durbin 2, Jaden Arnold 9, Brady Dame 9, Andrew Brackett 5
OC: Brian Griffith 17, Gray Weaver 19, Parker Gray 9, Ji Webb 6, Sam McFarland 5, Noah Johnson 2
2021 basketball coverage is presented in part by Rhoads & Rhoads Attorneys at Law.