Written by Kyle Valdez
On Tuesday night in Berwick, a rare matchup of cross-town schools squared off as the Central Catholic Eagles defeated Berwick by a score of 72-43. Although Central entered the game as the favorites, the rivalry game antics resulted in the talk about a potential upset. Amidst all the pre-game chatter, Central Catholic jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead and never looked back.
DJ Lewis, Taylor Blanchard, and Tyler Smith led the Eagles on offense – combing for 49 points. The 6’7 Lewis was active on the boards all night and running the floor to finish with 19 points. Blanchard and Smith each finished with 15 points. Point guard Davidyione Bias also had a positive impact – finishing with just 5 points, he rebounded and set up his teammates for easy looks around the rim. Dayton Clark scored 11 points and Blain Louviere scored 17 to lead Berwick.
In the first quarter, both teams were missing open shots from the field. However, both teams made their way to the free throw line – Central shooting 8/10 and Berwick 3/8. After the first quarter, Central led 22-10. Central extended their lead to 19 points at the half, outscoring Berwick 19-11 in the second period. DJ Lewis was a presence inside: getting offensive put backs, running the floor for transition buckets, and anchoring the defense down low for the Eagles. Lewis finished the first half with 15 points and 3 trips to the free throw line.
In the second half, it was more of the same as Berwick could only cut the lead down to 16. Berwick received offensive contribution from Dayton Clark as he would show off his versatile scoring ability by knocking down four field goals from to score 9 in the period. However, it was too little too late for the Panthers. Central held a 57-34 lead going into the fourth and kept the intensity up until the final buzzer. Tyler Smith was all gas, no brakes in the fourth quarter – playing at a Russell Westbrook type-intensity until he was subbed out with a few minutes remaining. Although Smith finished with 5 points in the quarter, he earned 4 trips to the free throw line, deflected multiple passes, and was running in transition. When the final buzzer sounded, Central had built a 72-43 lead.
For the Eagles, this win should be a confidence booster, to say the least. After securing the #2 seed and reaching the Division IV semi-finals a year ago, they’re off to a shaky start at 4-3 and suffered a blow out loss to Patterson this weekend. Tonight, Central looked impressive but simply missed to many easy looks around the basket. They ran good breaks, made the right passes, but would blow easy layups much too often. Although it’s hard to criticize the team that won by nearly 30 points, they could have easily put up 85-90 points. The individuals on the roster showcased their talents tonight: Taylor Blanchard stood out in particular. The 6’5 SF looked like a legit D1 prospect, displaying the ability to move well at his size and make shots from all areas on the court. Moving off the ball well too, he created open perimeter shots for himself; he also has the ability to put the ball on the deck, attack the rim, and make his free throws (7-7 FT). An underrated aspect of his game is his full-court vision – looking up the floor to find the open man resulted in easy buckets for his teammates. As Central Catholic continues their season, they will emerge as title contenders in Division IV. Especially with LCA moving up to Division III, this might be the year for the Eagles.
Berwick, on the other hand, is trying to re-prove themselves as a playoff contender. After finishing 3-25 last season, Berwick is off to a promising 2-3 start. Excluding the loss to Central Catholic, the Panthers have stayed competitive with every team they’ve faced. Looking at their schedule, they should remain competitive and stay in the Class 3A playoff picture as Central Catholic may be one of their toughest opponents of the season. Looking forward to their next game, the Panthers look to return to the win column with a home contest against Highland Baptist on Friday.
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