About 75 minutes before tipoff, the Central Lafourche gym was already packed to a near-standing room only capacity.
The fans were rewarded with all-out, non-stop effort from the home team, who is now one win away from the LHSAA Top 28.
The No. 21 Trojans battled No. 5 Ruston from start to finish, a drag-out defensive struggle that was close for the first three quarters.
But in the fourth, Central Lafourche’s toughness prevailed.
The Trojans rode the home crowd and scored a 49-39 victory, which often had the sold out crowd on the edge of its seat.
With the victory, Central will advance to take on No. 13 East Ascension on Friday.
Trojans coach Mark Sanders said it was his team’s intensity on Wednesday that sealed the deal.
“It’s outstanding for our basketball program,” Sanders said. “It was a battle. It was one of those nasty, tough and physical games. Our kids hung in there, then finished at the end, and I couldn’t be any more proud of them.”
Wednesday night’s game was a slugfest – a loosely officiated game that saw both teams play with intense physicality.
Despite a five-plus-hour bus trip and being on the road, Ruston responded well early, overcoming first quarter jitters to the second quarter tied at 10. The Bearcats did even better in the second quarter, using a late-quarter surge to earn a 22-20 halftime lead and an early third-quarter surge to go on top 28-23 – a run which forced
Sanders to call a timeout.
The rest of the game was all Trojans after that Ruston surge.
“We just never could sustain ourselves,” Ruston coach Bakari Beckwith said. “Offensively, we’ve been a pretty efficient team all season. We picked the wrong time to get tired, and the wrong time to have our worst scoring drought of the season.”
With Ruston missing close shots or turning over the ball with regularity, the Trojans surged.
Central Lafourche flipped the five-point deficit into a 34-31 lead at the end of the third quarter, thanks to eight points from senior Anfernee Poindexter.
In the fourth, things stayed the same, as the Trojans penetrated the lane and either drew fouls or made layups, which allowed them to seal the deal.
When Ruston had good opportunities to cut the lead, the Bearcats missed layups and free throws by the bundle.
The Trojans had balanced scoring throughout the night with several players – both starters and reserves – keying in the victory.
Senior Lionel Batiste led the Trojans with 16, but he had plenty of help. Sophomore David Robinson had 10 for the Trojans, tying senior Quindon Charles. Poindexter added eight.
“I think our depth tonight was huge,” Sanders said. “We really had a lot of kids step up, and that was so important for us, because we needed every bit of offense that we got throughout the night.”
In the next round, the Trojans will take on an East Ascension team that will not be an easy out.
East Ascension is 29-6, and has beaten a laundry list of the best clubs in Louisiana, including East St. John, Plaquemine, Belaire and Barbe. They also beat St. Paul’s in the second round of the playoffs on Tuesday night.
But Sanders said his team will be ready to go, despite being on short rest.
“We want to keep winning,” Sanders said. “Our goal is to win the last game.”
Posted on Thu, March 3, 2016
by GAZETTE SPORTS REPORTS