Two perennial powers traded figurative blows on the hardwood Tuesday night when Salpointe Catholic and Catalina Foothills met in midtown Tucson. The two teams, who last met in last year’s 4A state semifinal, played a 32-minute slugfest in front of a frenzied sellout crowd, with the Lancers coming away with a 68-57 win.
The visiting Falcons (11-5, 3-1), trailed for much of the game’s first half, with the Lancers taking a 29-28 lead at the half.
Not to be counted out, Doug D’Amore’s squad raged back in the first part of the third quarter thanks to a 13-2 run that gave them a 10-point lead midway through the period.
The Lancers (18-1, 4-0) never relented, erasing the Falcons’ advantage and regaining a 43-42 edge at the end of the third.
They never lost that lead, outscoring the Falcons 25-15 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Senior guard Carson James, who led Foothills with 22 points, found a few positives in the way his side fought against the Lancers.
“We have a lot to work on and we kept it really close against a really good team,” he said after the game. “So, luckily, we have another game coming up in a few weeks and we’re going to give them our best shot then and see what happens.”
D’Amore praised the way that James handled the Falcons offense in a hostile road environment, expressing how impressed he was by the way his team fought throughout the night.
The longtime Catalina Foothills coach took pride in how other players like junior forward Will Menaugh and sophomore guard Cody Blumenthal played against a stout Lancer zone.
Both Menaugh and Blumenthal joined James in breaking the 10-point plateau. Menaugh scored 11 points while Blumenthal added 10 of his own.
“We played three-and-a-half quarters that were really good tonight,” D’Amore said. “We had about a five-minute letdown, and that’s the difference against a really good team like Salpointe Catholic.”
D’Amore said the key for his side is finding a way to replicate the offensive success they found in the game’s third quarter.
“I don't think they were intimidated by the moment; I think they accepted it,” he said. “It's just they're a really good team and we had our chances and we just need to be better for 32 minutes.”
To read more about the Falcons’ game against the Lancers Tuesday night, and how the rest of their week turned out, pick up a copy of the Jan. 23 edition of The Explorer or Marana News.