By David Krueger Herald Writer
EVERETT — After faltering late in their Tuesday game against King’s, the Archbishop Murphy boys basketball team wanted to make sure it finished stronger Friday night.
A 7-0 run in the fourth quarter and a late three-point play by Chase White ensured the Wildcats’ second game of the week had a happier ending. Archbishop Murphy had to come from behind — and then hold on — to beat Cedarcrest 64-60 in a Cascade Conference contest at Archbishop Murphy High School.
“We showed some resiliency,” Wildcats’ head coach Jamar Williams said. “I think we learned a lot from our game Tuesday against King’s. We didn’t finish the game (well). … We’re gearing ourselves up for the playoffs. That’s playoff basketball. Basketball’s a game of runs and you have to be able to sustain runs.”
Cedarcrest and Archbishop Murphy battled back and forth in the fourth quarter. Both teams led late, but it was the Wildcats who netted the last — and most important — lead.
With the score tied in the final minute, White drove to the basket, made a shot and drew a foul. His free throw gave Archbishop Murphy a three-point lead with about 35 seconds to play.
“It wasn’t drawn up that way but we’ve really been focusing on having our guys pushing the ball, whether we get stops (on defense) or not,” Williams said. “We need to ball up ball up the floor and that’s probably one of our strengths. That was just him doing his job and executing.”
The Wildcats fouled the Red Wolves, forcing them to shoot free throws and not allowing them to catch up after Cedarcrest led by as many as eight points early in the contest.
“We know our abilities and we know we’ll always be in the game,” Archbishop Murphy senior Conner Longoria said. “We just keep believing the whole game. We’re not down by that much. We don’t get down on ourselves. We build each other up and that really helps.”
The victory took a little sting out of the teams’ earlier contest for the Wildcats, when Cedarcrest won 61-43.
Archbishop Murphy had not forgotten.
“They smacked us last game,” said Longoria, who scored 11 points Friday night. “We had something to prove. We’re playing a lot better now.”
Cedarcrest’s big run came in the second quarter when it outscored Archbishop Murphy 21-14 to take a three-point lead going into halftime. At the break, Williams told his team to stay focused and continue to get after the Red Wolves.
“Credit to our guys. We were down a little bit. We didn’t come out with a lot of energy in that first half,” Williams said. “I thought we were a little nervous about the moment because we knew what was at stake here. I really challenged them in the second half to just play to their capabilities, to play without fear and it just really showed out there in the second half.”
White, who scored seven points in the final quarter, led a balanced Archbishop Murphy attack with 13. Freshman D’Andre Bryant (12), Josh Parafina (12), Nolan Rogge (11) and Longoria — who is one of just three seniors on the Wildcats’ squad — all scored more than 10 points.
“That’s definitely our philosophy,” Williams said. “We want to share the basketball. We don’t have a go-to guy. I think our philosophy is to share the basketball and if you see a guy open give it to him.”
Senior guard Jordan Corpus had a game-high 24 to lead the Red Wolves, eight of which came in the fourth quarter as Cedarcrest rallied to keep up with Archbishop Murphy. Austin Paxman added 11 points.
“They’re a really tough team,” Williams said. “That Corpus kid is really tough. I’m sure he’s going to play basketball outside of high school. Paxman can really shoot the basketball. … I thought that was probably the best, defensively, I’ve seen (the Red Wolves) play in the last couple of years. They were really committed to it. We just got a few breaks and we started executing down the stretch and I think that was the key to the game.”
The victory gave Archbishop Murphy (8-3 league, 8-9 overall) a one-game lead over Cedarcrest (7-4, 10-7) in the Cascade Conference standings, and the inside track to the conference’s No. 1 seed in the 2A District tournament (King’s, the team currently at the top of the standings, is 1A). That seed gets a home game, which Williams said was “imperative” for the Wildcats.
“We’ve played really great at home since the (holiday) break. That crowd gives us great energy, the band gives us great energy and the student section — the guys really feed off that. It’s really critical to get one game at home.
“Hopefully it gives us some confidence and it really propels us going forward, getting geared up for the playoffs. That’s what you would hope.”
At Archbishop Murphy H.S.
Cedarcrest 10 21 9 20 — 60
Archbishop Murphy 14 14 10 26 — 64
Cedarcrest—Kyle Walsh 1, Andrew Gutmann 0, Austin Paxman 11, Jordan Corpus 24, Robert Cha 9, Anthony Ditore 3, Chad Klingenberg 4, Chase Cardon 6, Jake Kirschenmann 2. Archbishop Murphy—Abe Lucas 2, D’Andre Bryant 12, Connor Sand 2, Nolan Rogge 11, Chase White 13, Conner Longoria 11, Josh Parafina 12, Ben Thacker 0, Anfernee Gurley 1. 3-point goals—Paxman 3, Corpus 1, Cha 1, Ditore 1, Cardon 1, Bryant 2, Parafina 2. Records—Cedarcrest 7-4 league, 10-7 overall. Archbishop Murphy 8-3, 8-9.