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Trojans bounced out of playoffs by late surge

Trojans bounced out of playoffs by late surge

Central Lafourche was so close to the Final Four that it could just about taste it.

But East Ascension guard Le’Aaron Cain had other plans. His late-game dominance splattered the hearts of Trojan fans all across the state of Louisiana and pushed the Spartans into the Class 5A State Semifinals.

The Trojans led for most-all of Friday night’s game, including a double-digit, 10-point advantage with just four minutes in the game.

But the Spartans never buckled. Led by several fourth-quarter baskets from Cain, East Ascension dominated the late minutes, using a Herculean surge to climb even, then step on top en route to a 71-64 win.

The loss ends Central Lafourche’s season with a 21-10 record. In all 10 of the Trojans’ losses, the team had the lead in the fourth quarter. None was more depressing than Friday night’s collapse, which played out before a huge crowd at East Ascension’s gym – an even mix of Spartan blue and Trojan green.

“I thought we had it won,” a dejected Central Lafourche coach Mark Sanders said after the game. “It hurts, because it means we have to say goodbye to a great senior group. We came so close, and we could taste it on the tips of our tongues. But we just didn’t finish, and I know the kids are devastated. It’s going to sting for us for a while.”

The Trojans played some pretty solid ball on Friday night – especially in the first half.

East Ascension led 14-13 after the first quarter, thanks to an early flurry of early offense from Cain. But the Trojans dominated the rest of the first half.

Central Lafourche outscored the Spartans 22-11 in the second quarter to roll out to a 35-25 halftime lead. The key piece in the surge was dominant interior offense from Quindon Charles and Lionel Batiste – each routinely showing the ability to get to the line and finish around the basket.

The Trojans actually led 35-22 before halftime and appeared poised to go up more. But after a missed one-and-one free-throw opportunity with 4.4 seconds left, East Ascension got the rebound, went the length of the floor and made a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to trim its deficit from 13 to 10 before the intermission.

East Ascension coach Barry Whittington said it was a big swing for his team.

“Huge,” he said. “The kids needed a shot in the arm at that point, and that play there gave us some hope and kept our kids’ attention at halftime.”

But in the third quarter, the Trojans stayed strong, overcoming an early onslaught from East Ascension to take a 49-42 lead into the fourth quarter.

That advantage held steady and even grew in the fourth, as the Trojans led 58-48 with four minutes to go.

That’s when the wheels fell off for Central.

Cain dominated the back-end of the game, allowing East Ascension to finish the game on a 23-6 run in the final minutes.

He made 3-pointers, layups and even mid-range shots. When the Trojans extended themselves too much, they fouled him, and he made free throws.

Cain scored 25 points in the game – the leader among all scorers.

“They got hot late in the game, and that’s what did it for them,” Sanders said. “Give them credit. They made the plays. We just couldn’t finish the job, and that’s what hurts on our end.”

The loss ends the careers of five Central Lafourche seniors (Anfernee Poindexter, Lionel Batiste, Quindon Charles, Logan Alleman and Terry Eiskina).

Sanders said the senior group did everything right in their careers with the Trojans, and they’ll be tough to replace.

But the coach added that the Trojans have talent coming up, and they’ll continue to push.

“We’ll miss those guys, but we just have to keep going,” Sanders said. “We have to get back here and try and take it even deeper and into that Final Four.”