Slow start dooms Swifts in UIL state semifinal


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The Nazareth Swifts fell to La Rue LaPoynor 63-53 in a UIL Class 1A state semifinal at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Thursday. [Mackenzie Teal/ Press Pass Sports]

The Nazareth Swifts saw their season come to an end at the hands of La Rue LaPoynor in the opening semifinal game of the 2020 UIL state tournament Thursday morning at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

The slow first quarter start plagued by turnovers doomed Nazareth. The Swifts turned ball over four times on their first 10 possessions, which resulted in a 21-11 Flyers lead

The Swifts tried their best to fight back, getting hot from beyond the arc to start the second, cutting the deficit back down to three at 23-20. But anytime Nazareth seemed to answer, LaPoynor responded with a 15-4 run to end the first half with a 38-24 lead

LaPoyner continued to push the pace in the second half jumping on the Swifts with a 17-10 third quarter dominated in the paint by outscoring the Swifts 30-20 in the inside.

Nazareth found themselves down as many as 23 in the second half, but the never say die Swifts scrapped to cut the Flyers advantage to eight, at 59-51 with 20 seconds left before LaPoynor closed the game out on free throws.

Isaac Jackson, an All-State senior guard for the Flyers, led all scorers with 20, and also finished with a game-high 13 rebounds.

“He was someone we focused on shutting down in this game,” Nazareth coach Taylor Schulte said about Jackson. “We limited him to taking the shots we wanted him to, he was just able to knock them down.”

Nazareth forward Nathaniel Van Dijk, who played his final game in a Nazareth uniform, led the Swifts with 12 points before fouling out in the final minutes.

The Nazareth Swifts (27-10 overall) finish another fantastic season as the District 3-1A champions, as well as the Region 1-1A champions for a third straight year. Nazareth also made a prestigious 18th appearance at state the state tourney.

“We wanted this to be a player led team,” said Schulte, who is 83-26 in three seasons as Nazareth’s head coach. “When they took over, and the games started to become about more than wins and losses, they pulled it together. I’m proud of these guys and what we accomplished this year.”

LaRue LaPoynor (34-3) will face defending champion Slidell (31-9) for the Class 1A state championship at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

La Rue LaPoynor 63, Nazareth 53

Nazareth (27-10): Aidan Moore 1 -0 3, Kaden Cleavinger 3 2-3 9, Nathaneal Van Dijk 4 3-4 12, Luke Betzen 4 1-2 9, Brayden Dyer 1 2-4 4, Jayden High 1 0-0 2, Chance Hochstein 0 0-0 0, Carson Heiman 0 0-0 0, Derek Dyer 1 1-1 3, Luke Schulte 0 0-0 0, Trent Gerber 4 0-0 11. Totals: 19 9-14 53.

LaPoynor (34-3): Kase Johnston 3 3-4 9, Zane Hudman 0 0-0 0, Kamron Eldridge 5 1-1 13, Garrett Nuckolls 3 0-0 8, Isaac Jackson 9 2-7 21, Dalton Creel 0 1-2 1, Cooper Gracey 0 0-0 0, Lito Grijalva 1 2-2 4, Caleb Solis 0 0-1 0, Evan Almeida 0 0-0 0, Jeff Young 0 0-0 0, Damion Hall 0 0-0 0, Dijuan Whitehead 2 3-8 7, Aiden Maze 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 12-25 63.

Nazareth 11 24 34 53

LaPoynor 21 38 55 63

3-point goals: Nazareth 6 (Moore 1, Cleavinger 1, Van Dijk 1, Gerber 3), LaPoynor 5 (Eldridge 2, Nuckolls 2, Jackson 1). Total fouls: Nazareth 19, LaPoynor 12. Fouled out: Van Dijk, Dyer. Technical fouls: None.


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