Khadim Pouye and Ethan Ng combined for 41 points as the Cate boys’ basketball team thwarted a late Laguna Blanca surge to secure a 61-57 victory in a Frontier League clash on Wednesday night at Merovick Gymnasium.
The Rams overcame a red-hot shooting performance by Laguna Blanca sophomore Devin Hernandez, who finished with 36 points, including eight three pointers.
“Our whole job today was to stop Devin and we didn’t do a very good job of it. He lit us up,” said Cate coach Andrew Gil. “ That was our game plan so it shows how good of a player he is and how well coached the Owls are.”
Pouye scored 12 of his 27 points in the first quarter as Cate was effective with its press at the outset of the game, which led to easy baskets in transition.
A floater in the paint by Hernandez cut the Laguna Blanca deficit to 19-13 with under a minute remaining in the quarter. However, Cate opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run capped off by a Pouye corner three-pointer with 3:50 remaining in the first half that increased the Rams’ lead to 26-15.
Cate took a 31-22 lead into the locker room at halftime after Pouye scored a basket inside off an inbounds play as the second quarter buzzer sounded.
Hernandez made his presence felt at the outset of the second half with back-to-back three-pointers that cut the Laguna Blanca deficit to 31-28, which forced a Cate timeout.
Another three-pointer by Hernandez brought Laguna Blanca to within 33-31 midway through the third quarter.
“He’s got a nice stroke. He’s a sophomore, who is just learning,” said Laguna Blanca coach Sal Rodriguez of Hernandez. “He’s only 15 years old. He is going to be a good one.”
An offensive rebound and put-back by Pouye increased the Cate lead to 43-37 going into the fourth quarter.
Cate opened the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run capped off by a Ng three-pointer 5:20 remaining that put the Rams ahead 51-38. Laguna Blanca mounted one more comeback and cut its deficit to 57-51 on a Hernandez three-pointer with 1:33 remaining.
However, a Scott Holmes layup in transition on the ensuing possession followed by two free throws by Ng put the game away.
“At the beginning of the season we couldn’t compete. We were getting hammered left and right and my team has improved 100 percent,” Rodriguez said. “We’re giving everybody a game. We just can’t get over the top.”
With the victory, Cate improved to 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the Frontier League.