Bookends: Cardinals start, finish strong to top PCA
Moments like Friday night have been few and far between for the John Paul II boys basketball team.
That moment being a victory over Prestonwood Christian Academy, a feat the Cardinals had achieved just twice since 2006. That figure improved to three after a 50-44 victory over the Lions to remain unbeaten in district play.
"I asked our guys, 'How many times have we come over to Prestonwood and won?'" said Jacob Anderson, John Paul head coach. "I'm pretty sure it was one and that was tonight. It was a tough, gritty win and I'm glad we got it."
The Cardinals (20-4, 3-0) fended off Prestonwood (6-11, 1-2) with strong turnouts in the first and fourth quarters. The latter was especially timely as the Lions steadily trimmed an 11-point deficit down to a 38-37 John Paul lead at the start of the fourth.
Going nearly five minutes without a basket, the Cardinals curtailed Prestonwood's momentum after senior Robert Banister slithered his way to the basket for an and-1 conversion to make it 41-37 with 6:00 left.
"It felt like we hadn't scored in about six years," Anderson said. "We were telling our guys that we needed to attack and be aggressive. Robert took it to the hole, got right through the teeth of their defense and finished. That was huge for us."
Banister fed senior Jason Martin for a corner 3 and a 44-37 lead one possession later.
Prestonwood never recovered, essentially held without a field goal in the fourth, save for a layup by freshman Evan Peters as time expired. Senior Marquan Botley supplied the Lions' lone ammunition with seven fourth-quarter free throws. The guard finished with 19 points and three steals, but it wasn't enough on a night where Prestonwood shot 14-of-25 from the line.
"We missed some big free throws and some other shots when it was tight," said Chris Mayberry, Prestonwood head coach, "but I was really proud of our guys' effort, coming back against a junior- and senior-laden team like that."
The second and third were more to Prestonwood's liking as it outscored John Paul, 26-17.
Botley teamed with sophomore Shane Missimo, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, to stretch the Cardinals defense and helped force six John Paul turnovers.
"It was just one of those things where we couldn't make the big play," Mayberry said. "We had a few chances to tie it and just couldn't make that play to get the crowd back on our side."
The Lions pulled within 29-22 by halftime and a 14-9 third quarter permitted just a one-possession lead for the Cardinals entering the fourth.
John Paul gave itself such a cushion after claiming a 21-10 lead in the first, an opening frame that saw junior Jackson Forbes terrorize the Lions for 12 of his 19 points. The forward added 14 rebounds in the win, an area the Cardinals ruled all night with Martin -- who scored 19 and boarded eight -- and Forbes outrebounding the Lions by themselves, 22-16.
"[Forbes] physically dominated," Anderson said. "He's such a big presence and his size is so hard for teams to deal with. He had to be tough and he dominated on the glass."
The Cardinals opened with a 9-0 lead and never trailed en route to besting their city rivals, 50-44. A Tuesday road tilt at 8 p.m. against Argyle Liberty Christian awaits John Paul, while Prestonwood quickly turned around Saturday for a home outing against Fort Worth Nolan (results not available at press time).
Following that, the Lions travel to Trinity Christian--Addison at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
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