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Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Trojans win, roll to playoffs as district champions

Trojans win, roll to playoffs as district champions

The monkey is off their backs. The Central Lafourche boys’ basketball teams are district champions.

The Trojans earned the honor of being District 7-5A’s best in a tough, hard-fought 66-58 road win over a game played at a sold out Thibodaux Tigers’ gymnasium on Friday night.

The victory breaks a 40-year drought for the Trojans who haven’t won a boys’ basketball district championship since 1975.

Until now, that is – a wonderful feeling for the Trojans’ players and coaches to say aloud.

“It feels so good man. You really have no idea,” Trojans’ standout Lionel Batiste said. “Our whole community has our backs. They came out here and supported us, and it’s just a total team effort. We are so happy right now. We are so proud to be able to be that team that finally gets it back for our school.”

Friday night’s game was a must-win on both sides. For the Trojans, victory was needed to finish with a 12-2 district record – one game better than the 11-3 mark rival East St. John finished with on the season.

For Thibodaux, the Tigers needed a win to have a chance to make the LHSAA Class 5A State Playoffs.
The intensity showed.

In front of a standing room only crowd at the jam-packed, sold out gym, Thibodaux controlled the action early, pleasing the home-standing fans by taking a 16-13 lead.

That advantage held up into the second half, as the Tigers rolled into halftime with a 27-25 edge.

“It was a wild crowd,” Tigers coach Tony Clark said. “It definitely was a great environment to play high school basketball in. We had to come out early and give ourselves a chance, and we did that. We just didn’t do enough at the end to hold on.”

In the third quarter, the Trojans slowly started to take control of the action, even if the scoreboard didn’t yet show it. Central Lafourche did a better job maintaining tempo in the third quarter which led to the teams heading to the fourth quarter tied 39-apiece.

In the fourth quarter, it was all Central. In the opening minutes of the final quarter, the Trojans used a big run to jump ahead by 12, to a 53-41 margin. The Tigers fought until the end, but were never able to threaten, succumbing to the Trojans’ tough, hard-fought defense and timely offense, which secured the win.

Senior Quade Williams sparked the dominance in the final quarter, scoring nine points during the surge. Batiste led the Trojans with 20.

As the final seconds ticked off the buzzer, the party was officially on, as the Trojans’ players got t-shirts to commemorate their big-time, history making night.

Coach Mark Sanders said he couldn’t be prouder of his team.

“I’m so happy for the kids,” Sanders said. “They’ve worked so hard and they wanted this so bad. It wasn’t easy. Thibodaux came out and played a pretty good ballgame. But we played a great fourth quarter defensively and were able to get it done. I’m so happy for the kids.”

But the work isn’t yet done.

Now that the regular season is complete, the Trojans can now turn their attention on the Class 5A State Playoffs. Central Lafourche is a lock to host a first-round game, but their exact seed was not available at press-time on Monday morning.

Batiste said it doesn’t matter who the Trojans play, touting that the team can beat anyone if they play their best.

“We got one of our goals down, now it’s on to the biggest ones,” he said. “We’re happy with what we’ve done, but we’re not satisfied. Now, we move on to the big goal – making a run at state.”