Last season, the LaFayette Bulldogs saw the Sacred Heart Catholic Cardinals end their season in the Class 2A regional finals. On Tuesday, the Bulldogs got their shot at revenge and made doubly sure their aim was true.
LaFayette jumped on Sacred Heart early and took total control in an 84-49 victory. The game featured a tremendous performance from LaFayette’s Jordan Wallace, who ended the night with 25 points.
As a result, LaFayette has captured the Class 2A Northeast Regional title and advances to the state semifinals for the first time since winning the title in 2015. The Bulldogs will play Barbour County at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Birmingham—Jefferson Convention Complex.
“What a win. What a way for our young men (to play),” LaFayette coach Obadiah Threadgill said. “There’s 11 seniors, and out of that 11 these three guys (Wallace, Tae Burton and Corey Boston) have been on the varsity the longest. They’ve been to Jacksonville now four straight times and never been able to get out of here alive. What an opportunity and what a showing. Not only did we come and win, but we won in that kind of fashion.
“This is a great group of guys. These guys work extremely hard. ... It couldn’t go to a more deserving group.”
LaFayette (31-0) jumped on Sacred Heart (15-15) early, reeling off a one-sided 11-1 run in the first quarter that took the Bulldogs from clinging to a 6-4 advantage to leading by 12. The solid string of play by the Bulldogs came from several players coming up clutch including Boston, who hit back-to-back shots from the field to help his side pull away.
LaFayette’s strong opening quarter coincided with a poor start by Sacred Heart, which shot 2-of-12 from the field in the first eight minutes.
The Bulldogs seemed destined for another blowout victory by the time they reeled off a 5-0 run on the Cardinals late in the second quarter capped off by Wallace’s layup. Sacred Heart’s players, however, weren’t giving in so easily.
Wallace’s shot put LaFayette up 33-14 with 2:55 to go in the first half, at which point the Cardinals came to life. Mastrianni Marshall hit a layup and consecutive free throws before Jack Miller delivered a layup to give Sacred Heart six points in just under a minute.
After Antavious Woody hit a pair of free throws to give the Bulldogs a needed boost, Sacred Heart’s Jarek Burroughs nailed two free throws before Steven Landers came through on a layup with nine seconds left before halftime.
Landers’ shot — courtesy an assist from Marshall — capped off a 11-2 run by Sacred Heart and left the Cardinals trailing by only 10 at the break.
To LaFayette’s credit, the Bulldogs never seemed bothered.
Wallace began the third quarter with a jumper and a layup to pad the Bulldogs’ previously-shrinking lead before Sacred Heart answered with two successful shots from the field. The Cardinals had their share of points in the third, but the story of the eight-minute stretch was Wallace, who scored 11 points to help LaFayette hold an 18-point lead going into the fourth.
For good measure, the Bulldogs ripped off an 13-0 scoring run late in the final quarter to turn the contest into a complete blowout.
“We had a little bit of foul trouble, and we had some guys in the game during that (Sacred Heart) run that they’d get the same opportunities as these guys but they just don’t have the amount of reps on them,” Threadgill said. “We (flubbed) some opportunities right there, threw a couple balls away, missed some layups, but we know that our guys can score in spurts and we can score really, really fast. They just need to see the ball go in the rim.”
Wallace’s performance helped eliminate a Sacred Heart squad that had advanced to the state semifinals six years in a row. Boston contributed a double-double with 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, and Burton chipped in 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field.
Wallace, Boston and Burton were chosen to the All-Regional Tournament Team following the victory. Now, the trio and the rest of the Bulldogs set their sights on winning two more games and capturing a state championship.
“To me, finally getting to Birmingham has been a dream since getting pulled up in eighth grade,” Boston said. “Every year, we’ve had the same dream — to get out of Jacksonville. To finally accomplish that dream, it means a lot. Now, we can’t relax until we accomplish our first dream — that dream is to a win a championship.”