LIVINGSTON – Doyle basketball coach Daniel Kennedy figured Tuesday’s game against Episcopal would be a pretty good gauge of his team’s progress early in the season.
It’s safe to say the Tigers have some more work to do based on the outcome of the contest.
Episcopal got rolling early, and Doyle never quite found a groove with the Knights picking up a 77-59 win at the Doyle Elementary gym.
“This game should have been a game that we looked at and tried to put our best foot forward, but we did not play the style of basketball that we wanted to play,” Kennedy said. “Give credit to Episcopal. They’re obviously really good, well-coached, good players, disciplined, but I was really disappointed in my team’s aggressiveness – our fight in the beginning to try to take it them. I thought we played very intimidated, and very, almost nervous, kind of, in the beginning of the game.”
The Knights opened the game on a 16-4 run, which was capped by Ricky Villard’s steal and layup, and his 3-pointer extended the lead to 19-7. He finished with a game-high 23 points.
Episcopal frequently limited the Tigers (4-2) to one shot on their possessions in the first half, but Braden Keen’s jumper cut the lead to 19-10.
The Knights led 21-11 at the end of the first quarter.
“They used their size,” Kennedy said. “They dominated the glass, which I knew we’d have a hard time competing on the glass because of their physical size, but we were never able to get anything in transition and use our speed, and that goes back to what I was saying about being aggressive.
“We played on our heels instead of trying to be the more aggressive team, and that’s not a style that we’re going to be able to play. We have to have some fight, some energy, being aggressive, so that we can use our speed and athleticism, and we did not come out with that fight tonight.”
Baskets by Keen and Thomas Hodges, who each had 10 points, cut the lead to 23-17, but Episcopal expanded the lead at the free-throw line, going 6-for-7, capped by Jack Ter Haar’s three-point play, which made the score 31-19.
Ter Haar finished with 13 points.
James Jordan’s three-point play following a steal sparked a 10-2 run and helped the Knights grab a 42-24 lead at halftime.
“It was a rough night for everybody,” said Andrew Yuratich, who led Doyle with 14 points. “Nobody played to what they’re really capable of playing and (it) almost felt like we backed down to them because we knew that they were good and they were going to win a lot. We almost played scared to the point where we knew what they can do. It was a challenge for us to see where we were at, but I think on a good day, we could still play with them.”
Doyle went 12-for-21 from the free-throw line in the first half and 21-for-34 for the game, while Episcopal was 11-for-18 from the line in the first half and 17-for-28 for the game.
Consecutive 3-pointers from Yuratich and Logan Turner cut the lead to 52-40 midway through the third quarter.
Turner came up with a steal, but the Tigers missed a shot after the turnover, and the Knights closed with a 6-0 burst to lead 58-40 heading into the fourth quarter.
“That’s a huge play in the game,” Kennedy said. “We have an opportunity to have something and there went back the momentum, giving them something easy because of our turnovers. I don’t know how many turnovers we had, and I’d probably hate to know right now how many we had, but it was a bunch, and those turnovers always lead to easy baskets for the other team.”
DJ Morgan had 19 points for the Knights, including 10 in the third quarter.
The Knights stretched the lead to 69-45 early in the fourth quarter before the teams began to trade baskets with Episcopal maintaining a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
“We’ve got to learn to be consistent, but we have to compete consistently, and I think that you noticed that during the game,” Kennedy said. “If you go back to the last few games we played against Live Oak and Terrebonne, I thought we competed at a high level from the start of the game, and tonight we didn’t.
"We weren’t consistent in that, and that’s what I want them to take away from it," Kennedy said. "I don’t want them to lose confidence. I thought that should have been a really good game, and I thought if we would have played intense, I thought we could have made that a really good game. I don’t think they’re way better than us. They might be better than us, but we don’t know because we didn’t give our best foot forward, and that’s what’s disappointing, and that’s what you want them to learn.”