John Paul II Guardians

The John Paul II Guardians claimed the third district championship in school history — and first since 2015 — last Friday night after taking down San Marcos Academy 78-45 on the road. Submitted photo

SAN MARCOS — The Guardians claimed the third district championship in school history — and first since 2015 — last Friday night after taking down San Marcos Academy 78-45 on the road.

After defeating the Bears 82-36 in the first meeting back on Jan. 28, John Paul II head coach Forrest Blackwell said he didn’t want his team to get overconfident for the rematch. Luckily, that wasn’t a factor, as the Guardians (21-5, 5-1) seized a 23-10 lead in the first quarter and continued to hit the accelerator from there.

“We didn’t want to count our chickens before they hatched, but (Friday) night they hatched,” Blackwell said. “We are very proud of these young men for this accomplishment they have achieved. We’ve met every goal we set for the season and have a couple more we are looking to check off the list to finish the season.”

Freshman Josh McGuire began the second period with a dunk on a fast break that kept the momentum safely on the side of John Paul II. The Guardians went into the half with a 46-27 lead and used a smothering defensive effort to close things out over the final 16 minutes of play.

San Marcos Academy was held to just 18 points after halftime.

“We felt we were giving up too many points on the defensive side and needed to tighten up to finish the deal,” Blackwell said.

C.J. Kowalik posted a double-double in the victory by supplying 14 points and 16 rebounds. Dezmon Dudley added a dozen points and Payton Reimer chipped in eight while making his return to the court from injury.

John Paul II will now set its sights on the playoffs and an opening round matchup against Houston Northland Christian. The Guardians are set to host that game on Feb. 18.

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