There was no stopping Chase Wardlaw and the LaGrange Academy Warriors.
Wardlaw came out hot, and he never slowed down to help the Warriors secure a 61-41 victory over home-standing Lafayette Christian School on Thursday.
Wardlaw, who has enjoyed an exceptional senior season, finished with 27 points, and all but three of those points came in the first half.
“He’s seen every defense imaginable,” LaGrange Academy coach Britt Gaylor said of Wardlaw. “He just continues to make the right play, the right read. The thing that I love about him, not only is he playing hard offensively, but he’s playing hard defensively. And that’s creating a lot of scoring opportunities for him.”
Lafayette Christian coach Rene Gomez said his team had a plan for defending Wardlaw, but it didn’t pan out.
“We did a poor job of helping on the weak side,” Gomez said. “We got into where, I have to go stand by the guy I’m guarding instead of getting in the lane.”
A lot of Wardlaw’s points were scored on fast breaks.
“When he really hurt us was in transition,” Gomez said. “I told the guys we have to get back and defend the paint.”
The Warriors were executing in all phases early, and they rolled to a 22-6 lead after the first quarter.
“It was a real good start,” Gaylor said. “We made a commitment to really come out and play with some intensity on defense tonight, get back to doing some of the fundamentals we were doing earlier in the year. It was a good start for us.”
And while Wardlaw was obviously the number one option, Gaylor said the offensive execution was superb all the way around.
“We emphasized not only yesterday in practice, but the past couple of weeks really playing together, and how much better we can be when everybody’s involved and sharing the ball,” Gaylor said. “That was good for us to get out there and move it around, get some open looks, get some guys some confidence.”
By the half, the Warriors were on top 41-24.
The Warriors outscored the Cougars 13-4 in the third period to take a 54-28 lead, and Gaylor was able to empty his bench in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars did outscore the Warriors 13-7 in the fourth quarter to cut the final margin to 20.
“It’s good to see they didn’t give up,” Gomez said. “They made a good push. Hopefully that’ll help us (today).”
Sam Teel and Aaron Dixon each scored 10 points for the Cougars, and Blake Spradlin added eight points.
Jamie Zubernis added eight points for the Warriors, and Skyler Jones scored seven points.