DAYTON – The Purcell Marian boys basketball team takes as much pride in its defense as it does in the filling the bucket on the other end.
A staunch defensive effort carried the Cavaliers to a fourth-straight dominant postseason.
Purcell Marian salvaged the lone Cincinnati win in a quadruple-header of Division III district championship action Sunday at the University of Dayton Arena. The Cavaliers rolled past National Trail out of New Paris, 51-31.
The Cavaliers (22-4) play Versailles in a regional semifinal 5:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Trail finishes 19-6.
Purcell has allowed an average of 28 points per game in the tournament.
“We spend a lot of time trying to be good on defense,” Purcell Marian head coach Scott Kerr said. “We probably do that to the detriment of our offense. Our shooting wasn’t real solid. GCL basketball is about defense, playing hard, taking care of the basketball. We’ll keep doing that and try to win a few more games.”
Purcell took over in the second quarter, winning the period 14-3. Senior Alex Dotson had 11 points in the first half, the last two on a strong drive up the middle for a buzzer-beating layup.
“It’s great. Back-to-back winning this,” Dotson said. “This year, we want to go all the way. We’re used to facing adversity. We have seven seniors, most of us have been here since freshman year so we know how to play with each other. We’re always going to stick together.”
Javonta Lyons had seven points in the half. Purcell forced seven turnovers in the half and committed only one.
AJ Garrett put Purcell ahead to stay right out of the locker room, scoring a layup then blocking a layup on the other end. The block led to a 3-pointer from Jared Baldlock in transition, and Purcell led 31-14.
Trail put up a quick 8-0 run, which Lyons ended with a strong layup.
The second half became a grind-it-out affair after that. Purcell led by 15, 37-22, after three quarters.
Purcell shot 46 percent for the game and limited Trail to 40.6. Purcell forced 12 turnovers and committed only four, but three of those came late in the game after the matter had been decided.
“We knew National Trail was going to be a tough test for us,” Kerr said. “They didn’t win 20 games for no reason. They came early and had some energy. Our goal was to wear them down, use our depth to our advantage. They weren’t as deep as we were, playing on a longer court. We wanted to get up in them and wear them down, then pull away in the second half. That happened pretty much like we envisioned.”
PURCELL MARIAN (22-4): Garrett 3 0 6, Dotson 6 5 17, Lyons 3 5 11, Baldlock 2 0 5, Warah 3 4 10, Jefferson 1 0 2. Totals: 18 14 51.
NATIONAL TRAIL (19-6): Hunt 1 0 2, Harrison 3 1 8, Eyler 2 0 4, Woodall 2 1 5, Michael 1 0 2, Short 2 0 6, Weatherington 1 0 2, Hughes 1 0 2. Totals: 13 2 31.
Halftime, PM 26-14. 3-pointers: PM 1 (Baldlock), NT 3 (Short 2, Harrison).