Cathedral fails to execute against Brookhaven
By BILL BARKSDALE
Special to The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — The Brookhaven Academy varsity boys’ basketball team kept the Cathedral Green Wave off-course with a 54-41 win over Cathedral on Tuesday night.
“Overall, we played a pretty good game, we executed well offensively and ran the floor well,” Josh Watts, Brookhaven Academy boys head coach, said. “We were disciplined up and down the floor, we either got clean shots or were able to back up and execute.”
Cathedral suffered from more than 15 unforced turnovers. The Cougars capitalized on a majority of those turnovers with an uncontested layup. At several moments throughout the game, Brookhaven extended their lead to more than 20 points over Cathedral. Despite more aggressive play by the Green Wave, the Cougars kept control of the basketball and executed the plan they had prepared.
“We’ve played a tough schedule this year and have worked really hard on scoring in transition and getting back in transition,” Watts said. “That has been a big deal for us the last week or two. My big saying to the team is ‘Play fast, but not in a hurry.’ I want them to be intentional to take the shot when it’s there or reset if not.”
Cathedral started four freshmen and one senior, Chase Kaiser. The starting five held the Cougars to a three-point lead in the first quarter.
“I’m not surprised that the freshmen lineup competed well with Brookhaven’s starters,” Taylor Strahan, Cathedral head coach, said. “They are talented, but more importantly they play together and execute well. What they lack in high school level experience, they make up with passion. They aren’t used to losing.”
Strahan coaches those same freshmen on the junior varsity team, which has a win-loss record of 15-1 this season. One of those freshmen, Kaden Batieste, was Cathedral’s high scorer Tuesday night with 16 points. Batieste had a run of three 3-point shots early in the third quarter.
Strahan substituted four players regularly throughout the game, in an effort to “find five guys who will play hard every second and also be able to execute.” Shots did not fall in for the Green Wave, and the number of turnovers limited any momentum Cathedral could build.
“We (seem to) take bad shots every other possession, because we are still learning how to play with poise and control,” said Strahan.
Leading Brookhaven Academy was sophomore Tyler Fortenberry who sank 16 points.
“As a team we moved the ball really well. We try to get inside and then kick it out to one of the many good shooters on the team,” said Fortenberry. “Over the last couple of weeks facing Jackson Academy and Jackson Prep, we’ve learned to finish the game better, instead of easing up toward the end.”
Looking toward the end of the season, Fortenberry said, “We definitely will need to make more free throws in order to compete for the state title.” Facing Columbia Academy Friday night in Columbia, Coach Watts said, “we will need to be a lot more disciplined defensively and be sure each player knows their assignments.”
Cathedral falls to 11-12 overall and is 1-3 in district play with Tuesday’s loss. Brookhaven is surging with a record of 17-6 overall, 3-1 in the district.
Cathedral competes against Oak Forest Academy in Amite, Louisiana Friday night in another district competition. In practices before Friday’s game, Strahan plans to challenge his players, telling them, “We need more offensively. (They) have to take over in the paint for us to improve throughout the rest of district play.”