CINCINNATI — It was a beautiful thing for a while, but it did not last.
Badin High School’s boys basketball team was on a 100-point pace early in Friday night’s trip to Purcell Marian, soaring to a 33-18 lead in the first 10 minutes before the Cavaliers responded in even stronger fashion.
A.J. Garrett (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Alex Dotson (18 points, seven boards) plowed the road for Purcell, which scrapped its press in favor of physical halfcourt defense and rebounded for a 74-60 Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division victory at the Eveslage Athletic Center.
FRIDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
“They made their run, and we just couldn’t stop it,” said Rams coach Gerry Weisgerber, whose team took its first loss of the season and fell to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the GCLC. “You’ve got to figure out a way to get a stop, get a bucket and kind of get it back to normal. But we could never get that.”
Spencer Giesting continued to shoot well in an off-the-bench role for Badin. Giesting (15), Justin Pappas (12), Zach Switzer (nine), Joseph Walsh (eight) and Nathan Hegemann (eight) topped the scoring in the losing effort.
“They’ve got a lot of good guys this year, a lot of talent, so we knew we’d have to go to war basically,” said Pappas, a senior forward. “We came out blazing, but over the course of the game, they got back into their groove. We kind of settled into their pressure and then they got up in our grill a little bit more, and we didn’t know how to handle that exactly.
“We have a little bit of a young guard group, but we were all throwing passes away and committing turnovers, me included. We just needed to bite the bullet and take a five-second count instead of turning it over for an easy layup.”
The Cavaliers’ defensive success came in a somewhat surprising way. Their press got carved up by the Rams early in the game, so Purcell coach Scott Kerr decided to switch to a halfcourt defensive look that gave the hosts some grittiness.
Garrett and Dotson powered the fast break on the offensive end for the hosts, and the halfcourt man-to-man made life difficult for Badin’s offense. The Rams certainly missed some open shots as well, but their mojo just vanished and didn’t make another appearance on this night.
“You could tell they were really ready for our press,” Kerr said. “They had a week to prepare, and you can’t give that coaching staff a week to prepare for what we do and not expect them to give us some fits.
“I think we can be a really good halfcourt defensive team if we need to, and tonight we really leaned on that to get back in the game. What it did was kind of change the tempo. They weren’t getting the easy runouts and wide-open kickout 3s that they did early, and I think that was a big turning point.”
He admitted he couldn’t remember the last time the Cavaliers had to play halfcourt man to make a comeback.
“Honestly, I don’t ever remember us doing that,” Kerr said. “That’s how good they were at slicing us up. We’re really going to have to take a look at the film and see how they were able to do that. We could’ve made some adjustments, but it was just easier to go halfcourt man and see if we could slow ’em down.”
Purcell (4-2, 2-1) also made a couple offensive adjustments that were helpful.
“They’re a great gap defensive team. They will really clog the gaps on our driving angles if we don’t get their big, whoever it happens to be, out from in front of the rim,” Kerr said. “So we started running some stuff through A.J. in the high post in the second half. We were able to take that and run with it.
“The part that makes us hard to guard is we’ve got a lot of guys that can play with the ball in their hands. I thought A.J. was really active inside tonight, and that was huge.”
Michael Little contributed 10 points for the Cavaliers, who made sure Badin’s second-half efforts went for naught by sinking 24-of-32 free throws. The visitors were 9-of-15 at the stripe.
“We showed for 12 minutes what we’re capable of doing. I’ve been waiting to see that offense all year,” Weisgerber said. “Things were coming kind of easy in the first quarter and a half and then all of a sudden it wasn’t working anymore, and we kept trying to force it too much.
“We had opportunities. We probably shot the 3 better than we shot the 5-footer tonight. We run good offense. We’re just not finishing enough inside. We’ve got to learn how to take contact and still score.
“It’s a tough place to play, and once they get going, they feed off of that. And they made their foul shots tonight. Give them credit. That’s been their Achilles heel in the past.”
Seth Hargis grabbed seven rebounds and Pappas added six for the Rams. Kerr said it was a huge win for his crew because Purcell couldn’t afford to lose at home and fall two games behind Badin in the Central.
“You can’t give one away at home in Game 3 and say your goal is to win the league,” Kerr said. “Our league obviously is a beast. We had to hold serve tonight.
“Our rivalry with Badin’s always been good. If you go back and look at our games, they’ve always been competitive. Not that all GCL games aren’t, but our games are always intense. That’s what makes our league so special. Two teams can come out and play that hard, and then afterwards we’re all sitting here talking with each other.”
The Cavaliers are traveling to Akron on Saturday for a 4 p.m. game against Pittsburgh North Catholic in the Marianist Classic at St. Vincent-St. Mary. Badin will visit Edgewood next Friday.
“It’s something we haven’t had to do yet this year — bounce back from a loss,” Weisgerber said. “Everything tonight is correctable. We’ve just got to take care of business the rest of the year now.”
“It’s a tough loss, but we’re going to get back to work,” Pappas said. “When we play Purcell at our place (on Feb. 1), we’ll probably be playing for the GCL. That’s our goal.”
Purcell Marian 16-19-16-23—74
BADIN (5-1, 2-1 GCLC Central): Joseph Walsh 3 0 8; Seth Hargis 1 0 2; Nathan Hegemann 2 4 8; Zach Switzer 4 0 9; Justin Pappas 5 1 12; Easton Scowden 1 0 2; Spencer Giesting 5 2 15; John Berg 0 1 1; Josh Hegemann 1 1 3. Totals: 22-9-60
PURCELL MARIAN (4-2, 2-1 GCLC Central): Clarke Jefferson 2 0 4; A.J. Garrett 10 2 22; Alex Dotson 6 5 18; Javonta Lyons 2 5 9; Jared Baldock 1 2 5; Michael Little 2 6 10; Dustin Davis 1 4 6. Totals: 24-24-74
3-pointers: B 7 (Giesting 3, Walsh 2, Switzer, Pappas), P 2 (Dotson, Baldock)
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