Cathedral boys upset No. 1 Salem

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, February 3, 2015

For the first time this season, the Cathedral Green Wave were at full strength on the basketball court, and it showed Monday night as they traded blows with Class 1A’s No. 1 team, Salem.

But it was Cathedral who landed the knockout punch, upsetting top-ranked Salem 51-44.

“We came out and played the right kind of game,” Cathedral head coach Peter Arnold said. “That was our most complete game of the year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We got a lot of optimism out of that game.”

Email newsletter signup

Entering the contest, Arnold said he and his team knew what they were up against, but if they were able to play their style of basketball, they would have a chance.

“They like to score 70-80 points in a game,” Arnold said. “We like to play in the 50s. So I told the team, ‘If we take 20-30 seconds to get a good shot, that is shortening the game, and they are going to get a little bit unnerved because they are going to want to get up and down the floor.’”

Cathedral executed their game plan to perfection, holding their opponent to just 44 points and scoring a point above their season average.

James Coley paced the Green Wave offense with 16 points and was nearly unstoppable on the boards at some points of the game.

“He rushes a lot of stuff, but he just slowed down,” Arnold said. “He got it several times under the basket and took his time. He is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, and that is a force at this level.”

Coley was making his return from an ankle injury that he suffered last week against Madison St. Joseph, but the junior appeared healthy the whole way.

At times, Salem looked like they were starting to pull away from Cathedral, but the Green Wave constantly battled back and hung around.

Cathedral trailed by just three at halftime and took their first lead of the game in the third quarter with a minute left.

From that point on, the two traded baskets until around the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

Leading 45-43, Cathedral forced a turnover with 1:42 left in the game. On their ensuing possession, Alex Weadock found the ball in his hands behind the three-point line.

“We’ve had so many good looks like that this year that just haven’t gone in,” Arnold said. “I was just thinking, ‘Let this be the one.’”

It was the one, as Weadock drilled his shot from behind the line to push the Green Wave lead to five. It was Weadock’s only field goal of the night, but it came at the perfect time for Cathedral.

“He took his shot, sunk it and it was all good,” Coley said.

R.J. Givens would add another basket for Cathedral with one minute left to push the lead to 50-43, and both teams would hit a free throw in the final minute of play to cap the scoring.

“This is great, but we can’t think too much about it,” Coley said. “In basketball, when you win, you have to turnaround and win another. It is good, we are going to get on a roll, but we can’t let it get to our head too much.”

Jardarius Anderson scored 11 points for Cathedral and Wyatt Boothe chipped in with seven.

Cathedral will take the court again tonight as they square off with Piney Woods.