CPA cruises to victory in boys state tournament quarterfinals

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 6:49pm

MURFREESBORO -- Drew Maddux will tell you up front that he's superstitious.

The Christ Presbyterian Academy coach broke out with a smile when asked if he changed things around from three years ago when his team suffered a heart-breaking, one-point quarterfinal loss to Dyer County in the state tournament. After haunting memories of that game, he totally changed his team's itinerary this week.

"We took a completely different route [to MTSU for its quarterfinal game] than we did three years ago,'' he said. "We ate at a different restaurant and our practice schedule was different."

The result was decidedly different. The Lions drilled Spring Hill 82-62 Wednesday afternoon in the Class AA quarterfinals on the same MTSU court.

Turning to his players on press row, he asked, "Am I superstitious, guys?'' and all nodded  in agreement.

One can't argue with the results.

The top-ranked Lions (35-2) took apart No. 3 Spring Hill, jumping to early 7-0 and 15-3 leads and  coasting to victory.

They next play Stone Memorial in Friday's semifinals.

Behind a balanced attack, CPA won its 23rd game in a row. Its last loss was in December.

Guard Vic Wharton led all scorers with 23 points, many coming on slashing drives to the basket. He had plenty of help.

Jalen Lindsey scored 20, including three slam dunks, guard Craig Bradshaw, the only senior starter, poured in 17, and sophomore sharpshooter Jake Allsmiller added 14, including four 3-pointers.

"It all begins with guys screening and freeing me up [for the slams],'' Lindsey said. "I think the high-profile tournaments we played in earlier helped us preparing for this. We came out ready."

Allsmiller, who has already been offered by Vanderbilt, hit a 3 just 23 seconds into the game and he had three of them by halftime.

"It's great ball movement by my teammates, just making the extra pass and finding me,'' Allsmiller said. "We have so many weapons on this team, it just makes my job easier.''

Spring Hill (30-2) was again led by its top two scorers Keilan Blanks (20 points) and Montrae Williams (16 points), but the Raiders were hurt by 12 first-half turnovers and saw their 30-game winning streak come to an end.

"They're an excellent ball club,'' veteran Spring Hill coach Jimmy Young said of CPA. "We gave it all we had. We made too many careless passes, made too many mistakes.''

Said Maddux: "In big games, a lot of times it's who throws the first punch, who dictates the game, and that was us."

Ranked No. 1 since December, Maddux knows CPA has been a target for some time.

"We've had that bullseye on our back for quite awhile,'' he said. "But our players have embraced it. They love each other and you can see it by the way they play.''

Stone Memorial (26-10)  trounced Livingston 80-65 in its quarterfinal matchup.

The semifinal will bring together all three of the Class AA Mr. Basketball finalists -- Bradshaw and Lindsey of CPA and Brandon Cole of Stone.

"Mike [Buck, the Stone Memorial coach] does a terrific job, it will be a tough matchup for us, especially facing their Mr. Basketball finalist [Cole],'' Maddux said of the semifinal matchup.

CPA is two wins away from its first boys title and joining the Lion girls in the throne room after they captured the crown last week.

"They definitely set the bar high,'' Maddux added, laughing.

He likely will keep the same itinerary as Wednesday.