DEKALB — For Kemper Academy it was a heartbreaker, for Laurel Christian it was a program builder.

The No. 6-seeded Laurel Christian School Lions pulled the first shocker of the MPSA District 5-A Tournament by knocking off No. 3-seeded and host Kemper Academy 57-44 in boys basketball action on Tuesday night.

“This is our first year of playing varsity,” said Laurel Christian coach Jim Cegielski. “This was the biggest win in the history of our program.”

The win pushed Laurel Christian into the semifinals of the tournament against No. 2-seeded Newton County Academy at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. Even bigger than that, it guarantees the Lions a spot in the South Central A Tournament at Prentiss Christian next week.

Other first-round games on Tuesday saw the Kemper Academy girls easily handle Laurel Christian 50-18, the top-seeded Newton County Academy girls beat Russell Christian 60-21 and the No. 2 seeded NCA boys roll past Central Academy 61-33.

Thursday night’s semifinals have the NCA girls facing Wayne at 4 p.m., the Heidelberg boys taking on Wayne at 5:30 p.m., the KA and Heidelberg girls facing off at 7 p.m. and the NCA and Laurel girls playing at 8:30.

In Tuesday’s nightcap Laurel Christian trailed 3-0 early, but once it took a 5-3 lead on a basket by Johnson Marcellino with 4:15 left in the first quarter, never trailed again.

One reason was the brilliant play of sophomore Justin Jarrow, who scored 26 points, including four 3-pointers in the first half.

“When he gets going he’s just really hard to stop,” Cegielski said.

Laurel Christian led 10-5 after one quarter and KA did battle back to tie the game at 13-13 with 5:13 left in the half on an inside basket by Luke Moore. Jarrow answered with a three-pointer to make it 16-13 and LCS held on to lead 21-17 at the half.

The visitors scored the first six points of the third quarter to go up 27-17, but Kemper fought back to make it 29-25 on a bucket by Louis Leonard with 2:01 to play. But LCS hit two quick buckets and managed to hold on to a 33-27 lead at the end of three quarters.

“I still thought we had a chance then, but we just didn’t play very well,” KA coach Jerry Jones said. “We’ve had some success this season, but tonight was very disappointing. We just couldn’t make any shots.”

Laurel Christian scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to go up 40-27 and take control of the game.

Andrew Morgan scored 11 points for LCS, while Matt Morgan added nine. Lake Mosely led Kemper Academy with 13 points, while Brandon Key scored 10 and Jake Rush had eight.

KA ended the season at 14-13.

Kemper Girls 50

Laurel 18

The Lady Rams ran their record to 24-5 on the season with the convincing win over the Lady Lions.

Kemper scored the first 19 points of the game and led 19-2 after one quarter of play and 34-5 at the half.

“Now we are where we want to be,” said KA head coach Don Flick. “We’ve made it to the next round and that’s important.

“I thought we could be a pretty good team before the season started, but we may have a chance to be even more successful than I expected,” he said.

Kasey Barnes scored 10 points to lead KA, while Ashley Smith had nine and Samantha Harpole seven.

Martha Morgan led Laurel with 13 points.

NCA Girls 60

Russell Christian 21

Newton County Academy led 24-3 at the end of one quarter of play and 39-8 at the half on the way to the 39-point win.

Casey Rowzee scored 21 to lead Newton County Academy, now 28-8 on the year, while Erin Watkins tossed in 13.

Jenny Simpson scored six for Russell.

NCA Boys 61

Central 23

The Generals of Newton County Academy outscored Central Academy 18-0 in the third quarter to turn a 26-16 halftime lead into a blowout.

Central was within four at 14-10 early in the second quarter, before NCA stretched it out to 22-10. The Generals held a 10-point lead at the half.

But NCA just totally took over in the second half, as Bo Diveley scored the last nine points of the third quarter to help the Gens build a 44-16 lead with just one quarter to play.

Ben Thames led the Generals with 20 points, while Diveley had 19.

Clint Brown and Hunter Brown scored eight each for Central.

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