Concordia Lutheran pulled away from its SAC-rival Bishop Dwenger in the second half for a boy's basketball victory in the IHSAA Class 3A Sectional 22 at Garrett on Tuesday.
Here were five keys to the Cadets' success:
1. DJ McCall in transition
When the game was still close late in the second quarter and early in the third, McCall got Concordia out in transition. The junior was a part of three turnovers and got out in front. He took the ball the length of the court multiple times and didn’t allow the Saints to set-up their zone defense that had stifled the Cadets to some extent early in the game. He scored eight points and caused Bishop Dwenger to foul multiple times in the critical 17-3 run that put the Cadets up big.
2. Matching Bishop Dwenger’s intensity
Early in the game, it seemed like Bishop Dwenger wanted it more. The Saints were the underdog and were fighting to pull the upset. It worked, as they found loose balls and chased everything down. Eventually, though, Concordia and its senior laden team worked just as hard. It stopped letting the Saints box them out and get behind them on backdoor cuts for layups. Once those stopped, the Saints struggled to get buckets against the Cadets defensive pressure.
3. Getting a lead
Bishop Dwenger wanted to play zone and slow the game down to stop Concordia’s speed. When the Saints were leading, it was able to force Concordia into jumpshots and had long offensive possessions that resulted in easy baskets. Once Concordia went on its run and took a larger lead, Bishop Dwenger was in trouble. A Concordia lead forced the Saints to play a man-to-man defense and move quicker on offense, two things they didn’t want to do.
4. Sharing the ball
Concordia made 23 buckets in the game, and on those 23 scores, the Cadets had 14 assists. It wasn’t simply one man taking control and dominating but ball movement, cut and dishes and looking for the extra pass. It’s awfully tough to guard a team that has its leading scorer with 13 and its lowest scorer have six because you never know where the ball is going next.
5. Athleticism and length
Concordia was the bigger and quicker team on the court Tuesday. Concordia won the rebound battle 26-15 and didn’t let Bishop Dwenger get second chance points. The Cadets used their size advantage to win underneath and its athleticism to push the ball, a style Bishop Dwenger was not able to match.