Defense + Gray = Green Wave victory

Published 12:33 am Saturday, February 9, 2008

NATCHEZ — Cathedral had the perfect formula to end West Lincoln’s perfect Region 8-1A record. Play tenacious defense and give the ball to Juan Gray.

The Green Wave did both. They held the Bears to 38 points and Gray scored 27 of his own, including 23 in the second half as the Wave took a 45-38 victory on Senior Night.

“We won this game because we played great defense,” Cathedral coach Peter Arnold said. “Juan is a great player but there are five guys out there who play great defense and fight for loose balls and rebounds. If we don’t play good defense we’re not going to win.”

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The win did not matter in the region standings. West Lincoln (10-1 Region 8-1A) and Cathedral 22-5, 10-2) had already locked up the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the region tournament.

However, the win gives Cathedral more confidence heading into the tournament knowing they can beat the region’s top seed.

“We know we can beat them now,” Arnold said. “We played them close on the road but lost in overtime. We knew we could beat them, but knowing and doing is two different things.”

And the main reason the Wave were able to win, other than their defense, was the dazzling play of Gray.

The senior point guard had just four points at halftime, but hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter that got him going.

West Lincoln used two and three players to try and guard Gray all night, but he continued to dribble through and around the double and triple teams and either get to the basket for a layup or get fouled and go to the free throw line.

Gray scored 14 of Cathedral’s 19 points in the fourth quarter as they pulled away from a tie game to take the win.

Gray’s finest moment came in the closing seconds of the game, when three West Lincoln defenders had him trapped against the sideline. It was no problem for Gray as he dribbled through and then around the defenders, killing about 15 seconds off the clock before passing to Geoffrey Martin, who hit the game-clinching free throw after being fouled with 18 seconds left.

“I’m just used to (all the defenders)” Gray said. “I’ve been dribbling since seventh grade because I’ve always been a point guard. We were playing a great team tonight and I had to step up my game.”

Andy Lucas was the only other Cathedral player in double figures with 11 points.

Jeremie Richardson led West Lincoln with 20 points while Jeremy Byrd scored nine.

West Lincoln girls 54, Cathedral 34

The Lady Wave couldn’t duplicate the boys success, falling behind early and losing by 20 points.

Cathedral held close the first quarter, but West Lincoln pulled away in the second quarter and took a 25-13 lead at halftime.

The Lady Wave (12-15, 7-5) stayed almost even with the Lady Bears in the third quarter but were out-scored 14-8 in the fourth as West Lincoln cruised to the victory.

It was a great night for Cathedral senior Kristian Dobard, who scored 26 points to lead the Lady Wave.

Tatie Marshall led West Lincoln with 22 points while Julie Case scored 14 and Talashia Fells added 10.