GREENCASTLE – Guerin Catholic coach Pete Smith saw something in Whit Rapp when the team left the hotel Saturday morning before the regional semifinal.
“Whit was ready to go. He was really excited,” Smith said.
Rapp poured in 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor to pace the second-ranked Golden Eagles to a 74-58 win over Tri-West at the McAnally Center.
Rapp, known for his assists, had nine of those too. The senior point guard also hit 10-of-12 from the free throw line (9-of-10 in the final quarter) to help Guerin (21-3) pull away.
“I thought he controlled the game,” Smith said.
The same could be said about the Guerin, which sprinted out to a 11-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The Golden Eagles shot nearly 60 percent in the first half and contained junior guard Tyler Waite (who finished with 15 points).
“Waite’s a very good player,” Smith said. “It’s all about him with their offense.”
Tri-West senior forward Brant Gadberry added 15 points as well, hitting five 3-pointers.
Guerin gained a comfortable 53-30 lead to start the fourth quarter and Smith put in some reserves in the hopes that the banged up Golden Eagles cold get some rest in the final period. But, the Bruins (15-8) had one more run, which started with two straight treys from Gadberry. Tri-West cut the lead to ten points (58-48)
Smith was forced to put the starters back in. After a strong defensive possession, junior guard Matt Holba put the exclamation point on the Guerin victory with a one-handed, commanding dunk to give Guerin a 62-48 lead with 3:22 left.
“Matt uses his athleticism extremely well,” Smith said of Holba, who finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
After Holba’s dunk, Guerin took back control of the game and near the end, Tri-West was forced to foul. Guerin hit 14-of-19 from the line in the final period to seal the win.
“I wish we would have gotten a little better play out of our reserves so that we didn’t feel like we had to get (the starters) in to finish it out,” Smith said. “It got a little close.”
Senior forward Aaron Brennan, one of the banged-up starters (knee) scored 13 points and brought down six rebounds in 20 minutes on the floor. Brennan hit 6-of-8 from the floor.
“I thought he played tremendous,” Smith said. Brennan was a “game-time decision” before the contest because of his injury.
Guerin meets Edgewood (13-10) in the Class 3A Regional 7 Final. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.