Updated Thu, Mar 13, 2014 11:21 pm
Matt Hughes’ game-high 28 points led his Bishop Watterson Eagles to a 62-45 victory over the Logan Elm Braves on Thursday night at the Convocation Center. The defending state champion Eagles went on a seven-minute, 19-2 run to close out the game to advance to the regional championship against the John Glenn Muskies.
After trailing 32-28 at the half, Hughes came alive scoring the Eagles’ first eight points in the third quarter including back-to-back unconventional, three-point plays.
The first three-point play by Hughes gave Bishop Watterson a 34-32 edge, its first lead since 3:43 remaining in the first quarter.
The Eagles returned four starters from last year’s championship team, including Hughes, who shot an impressive 70.6 percent from the field on the night.
Hughes’ 6-foot-5 frame allowed him to dominate underneath the basket as he recorded eight rebounds while scoring all 28 of his points from inside the three-point arc.
“We were giving each other the ball on the block and since we had the height advantage we could get easier baskets down low, which helped us tremendously,” Hughes said.
Logan Elm did not give in easily to the physical play of the Eagles and were led once again by senior Dillon Young. Young went into halftime with ten points and six assists.
Watterson made a crucial halftime adjustment in the second half moving by senior Tommy Geraghty over to guard Young for the remainder of the game.
Geraghty gave his point-guard counterpart zero room to breathe as he held Young to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field and allowed no assists in the second half.
“Tommy gave us a big lift coming into the game and defending [Young],” head coach Vince Lombardo said. “At halftime we talked about making [Young] work harder to get his points and we needed to close out better on the shooters, and we did.”
With Geraghty leading frequent double-teams on Young, the Braves were unable to find the bottom of the net. Logan Elm shot just 22.7 percent from the field while going 2 for 13 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Despite Young’s 20-point performance, the Braves failed to find an answer to Watrerson’s post-play, as they were outrebounded 31-22.
Watterson’s tournament experience highlighted the majority of the fourth quarter. After Young 3-pointer tied the game at 43 with 7:21 remaining in the game, the Eagles took over.
Watterson allowed the Braves to score only two more points the rest of the quarter. The Eagles ended the game on 19-2 run with 10 points coming from Hughes.
With the win, Bishop Watterson (24-2) advances to the regional championship game for the second year in a row. The Eagles square off against John Glenn on Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
“It’s a one game season and we treat it like it’s our last game of the season.” Hughes said. “We just have to get through this one-game season to make it to our next season. I think that since it’s our senior year we want as many seasons as possible.”
Despite winning the state tournament last year, this Eagles squad does not talk about defending their title.
“This is a new and different year,” Lombardo said. “We don’t have to defend last year, we already got that one in the trophy case.”