By the time Anthony Cowan’s layup beat the halftime buzzer of Thursday night’s WCAC showdown between No. 6 DeMatha and No. 3 St. John’s, pushing the Cadets’ lead deep into double digits, it was plenty clear it was the Cadets’ night.
By the final buzzer, St. John’s (14-1, 4-1 WCAC) had left no doubt with an 81-69 win in Northwest that was not as close as the final margin. It was one of those nights when a roster overflowing with talent looks the part.
Cowan’s layup put the Cadets up 41-22 at intermission, and they were not threatened in the second half.
“We wanted to come in and make a statement,” said St. John’s guard Mike Morsell, who scored 16 points. “We had a great night. It was a great effort all around from everybody.”
DeMatha had no answers for the Cadets’ five-guard, run-and-gun approach. Quick outlet passes set up high-percentage shots for players such as Morsell, Tre Campbell (16 points), and James Palmer (12). St. John’s rarely allowed the shot clock to tick down to single figures.
“That’s our game,” St. John’s Coach Steve McAloon said. “We’re all guards, so we have to play fast. . . . Once we get a big lead, I don’t think there’s many teams that can keep up with us as fast as we are.”
DeMatha (15-2, 6-2) had a difficult time matching the Cadets’ offensive pace and their defensive intensity. Frequently, St. John’s defenders deflected DeMatha’s passes and came up with the loose balls to start the fast break.
“Defensively, I thought we were awesome,” McAloon said. “Especially for the first two-and-a-half quarters. We kind of took their will.”
It was one of those nights when non-starters chip in energizing buckets and one of those nights when the crowd cheers Steve Wilson, a beloved bench player who got his chance late, and then roars when Wilson drops four points in 20 seconds.
“I just thought we were great,” McAloon said. “It seemed like every time I looked up, somebody was making a play, and it was somebody different.”