Rogers’ Clemmye Owens keeps his eyes on the basket as he drives in the second half on Friday as Southview’s Jeremiah Roberts (3) and Leon Eggleston, right, defend.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
Rogers and Central Catholic didn't allow for any suspense to invade the Whitmer gym Friday night.
Both teams stormed out on top of their opponents early and it led to them cruising to individual Division I boys basketball sectional championships.
Rogers avenged a loss in a sectional final to Southview a year ago by posting a 74-44 blowout in the first final while Central Catholic followed the same path and dominated Start to post a 77-34 victory in a game the Irish took a 40-15 lead into halftime.
Rogers will face St. John's Jesuit on Thursday in a district semifinal at the University of Toledo.
Clemmye Owens poured in a game-high 22 points to lead the Rams (15-7). He scored 11 of his points in the second quarter to help Rogers take a 19-point lead into the break.
PHOTO GALLERY: Irish get big win over Spartans
PHOTO GALLERY: Rogers too much for Southview
"This is the team that put us out last year, so this really means a lot," Owens said. "They felt like they could beat us again, so that's why we had to make this a statement game."
The Rams' message to the Cougars was delivered loud and clear right from the start. There would be no taking Southview (6-17) lightly despite the Cougars' sub-.500 record entering the matchup.
"They beat us last year because we weren't focused," Rogers coach Earl Morris said. "When you come into the tournament you have to be focused every game."
Tribune Dailey and Keandre Gilmer scored 11 points apiece and DeVonte Pratt provided 10 points to give Rogers plenty of scoring options.
Matt Morrison led Southview with 11 points while Brandon Stewart and Nate Hall added eight points apiece in a game the Cougars never really got on track.
"You have to give Rogers a lot of credit ," Southview coach Marc Jump said. "There's a lot of guys out there with a lot of tournament experience. They have a pretty good group of guys."
The Rams, who had defeated the Cougars by 20 points in a meeting earlier this season, controlled the game by dominating play near the basket.
Dailey, Pratt, and Fadil Robinson (six points, five rebounds) took over the game with their play near the rim.
Rogers built a 20-6 lead by the end of the opening quarter and closed out the first half with a decisive 39-20 advantage. Dailey scored all 11 of his points in the first half. Most of his baskets were made inside the foul lane, including a rim-rattling alley-oop dunk that gave Rogers a 28-10 lead with 5:11 left in the second quarter.
Dailey, who also grabbed five rebounds, said the Rams never felt completely at ease against the Cougars.
"We wanted to keep the intensity high and not let them score," Dailey said.
Jump had hoped to keep the game at a halfcourt pace and didn't want to play in an up-tempo style, which he thought favored the Rams. Falling behind by double-digits in the opening quarter didn't help their cause.
"Once you fall behind that kind of throws that right out the window because you do have to score baskets when you're down by 14 points," Jump said.
The Irish (18-5), led by Nate Harris and Keith Towbridge, pushed the Spartans around for four quarters in their rout of the Spartans and a Thursday night date with Three Rivers Athletic Conference rival Whitmer in a district semifinal.
Harris pumped in a game-high 16 points to lead four Irish to score in double figures against the Spartans. Towbridge chipped in 14 points, Cliff Bussey added 12, and Marcus Winters 11.
"Coach basically told us to just stay under control and take good shots and we had to crash the boards," Harris said. "Start is a good and athletic team, but we were able box out, clear the boards, and we were able to be successful."
After closing out the first quarter with a 12-3 lead Central broke the game wide open by outscoring Start 28-12 in the second quarter to end up with a 25-point halftime advantage.
The 28-point barrage by the Irish in the second quarter was arguably one of the their best offensive efforts this season.
Central coach Jim Welling thought the Irish's huge second period was due to an all-around team effort.
"We got great support off the bench," Welling said. "We got some good minutes out of [Jermiah] Braswell and [Marcus] Winters and [Tom] Vetter. They all came in and did a nice job."
Braswell and Vetter finished with eight and four points, respectively.
Start, the City League champion, never recovered from the abysmal first half.
Scott Hicks finished with a team-high 13 points for the Spartans (11-10) and Chris Adams added seven points.
Welling said the Irish wanted to contain Start leading scorer Dion Ivery, who entered the game averaging 17.4 points per game. The Spartans guard was held to four.
"Getting the ball out of Ivery's hands was a big key," Welling said. "When he goes, they go. With the changing of defenses, and also getting the ball out of his hands and making him real uncomfortable early, we thought was the key."
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade