WESTWEGO - Brooklyn, N.Y., Bishop Loughlin had few answers for Walker’s Jalen Cook on Wednesday.
The Wildcats, however, had fewer answers in trying to contain Loughlin’s twin forwards, Justin and Julian Champagnie, who scored 29 and 27 points, respectively, to pace the undefeated Lions to a 78-60 victory in the opening game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic tournament played Wednesday at the Alario Center.
Cook scored a game-high 32 points via an assortment of field goals and free throws to match his approximate scoring average. But those heroics only managed to keep the score close for two-plus quarters before a 27-14 third-period run by the Lions proved to be the Wildcats’ undoing.
Cook hit five field goals, four three-point field goals and 10 of 14 free throws while scoring four points in the opening period, 10 in the second, eight in the third and 10 in the final eight minutes.
Those 14 first-half points helped limit Loughlin to a 34-26 halftime advantage during which time the Champagnies outdistanced the Wildcats by themselves in combining to score 29 points.
“I thought we came out with good intensity, good pressure defensively,’’ Walker coach Anthony Schiro said. “We got some stops defensively where we kept them in front of us where late in the game, we had some trouble doing that.
“Offensively, I thought we moved the ball well early and got some good looks. When Jalen starts making shots, they have to account for him and it frees up a lot of our other guys. I thought we attacked well early. I thought we spread them out and moved the ball well early and got some easy (field goals).’’
In the second half, however, Schiro said, “Their size and length took over.’’
Walker (14-6) fell into the consolation bracket at 11:30 a.m. Thursday against Silsbee, Texas.
Justin and Julian Champagnie, who stand 6-feet-6 and 6-feet-7 respectively, combined to score 56 points and grab 18 of Loughlin’s 35 rebounds. It was on the boards where the Lions dominated in limiting the Wildcats to 15 rebounds.
The Champagnies both are being recruited by St. John’s, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Tulane, according to their coach.
Loughlin’s 27-14 advantage in the third quarter produced a 61-40 lead heading into the fourth.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats had scored to cut Loughlin’s lead to 44-34 with 4:36 remaining and had possession of the ball when a technical foul against Walker gave the Lions two successful free throw attempts, possession of the ball and ignited a 13-1 run that produced Loughlin’s largest lead at 57-35.
“They’re big and they’re a good team,’’ Schiro said. “We had to extend our pressure even further out than where we were. We couldn’t pack it in as much as we were in the first half because they had a lead. So, they spread us out and the more we tried to get up into them, they get by you and they get some dunks and kicks.
“They got some easy baskets. And they’re a big, physical team. We had a hard time matching up at times and they just kind of wore us down.’’
Walker forward Trent Montgomery scored 12 second-half points to finish as the only other double-figure scorer for the reigning Class 5A state champions.
Guards Calvin Watson and Brian Thomas scored 9 and 5 points, respectively.
“They’re probably the best team we’ve played this year athletically and skill wise,’’ Cook said. “But we could have come out and played a lot better. In the first half we were sticking with them. If we had played like that the whole game, it would have been a different outcome.
“We started off strong in the first half, but by the end of the second quarter, we started lacking (off)," Cook said. "Then in the second half, things went downhill. But when we play our best and play hard every minute, we can compete with anybody. We’ve just got to finish our quarters and finish our games to beat the top teams.’’