CROWLEY – It wasn’t the complete game that Crowley coach Derrick Boone was hoping for.
But it was just enough, in the end, and that’s all that mattered.
The Gents (9-9) shrugged off a sluggish start, kept the game manageable and then rallied for 24 points in the fourth quarter to walk away from their rivalry game against Rayne with a 48-40 victory at CHS.
“We changed up our defensive strategy in the fourth quarter and our pressure really bothered them (Rayne),” said Boone, whose team caused five turnovers and went on a 9-0 run in the first two minutes of the final frame. “We started to really give them some trouble and we were able to capitalize off of their turnovers.
“We started executing at the right time of the game. We chipped away and when we finally took the lead, we played smart basketball.”
The Gents forced the Wolves into an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers on the night with 12 occurring in the second half.
“We have a mindset that we know the game better than the game,” said RHS coach Louis Handy, whose squad fell to 8-8 with the loss. “When you try to add things to the game, it creates some mishaps.
“We didn’t maintain our composure. Then we started playing one-on-one basketball instead of team basketball.
“Crowley capitalized on it. We had beaten them earlier and they were hungry. They were a little bit hungrier than us when it got down to crunch time.”
Neither team could find much consistency on offense in the first half. The Gents struggled from the floor and scored just two points in the opening frame. Luckily for them, Rayne also struggled and limped out to a 15-12 advantage at the break.
“Rayne never really capitalized on our mistakes,” said Boone. “Considering how bad we played in the first quarter and the first half, this should have been a blowout. We were lucky they weren’t able to take advantage of our mistakes early in the game because there were a lot of them.”
Rayne outscored Crowley 13-12 in the third quarter before the Gents picked up the pace on both sides of the court.
“We really came out with a lot of intensity in the fourth quarter,” said Boone.
Andre Mills got the Gents going in the final frame with a 3-pointer before back-to-back buckets by Damon Malbrough gave the Crowley a 31-28 lead with 6:06 remaining. John Davis added a layup after a steal by Mills. Rayne’s Drakkar Broussard ended the run with a 3-pointer of his own.
Jesse Harmon and Marcus Williams each added a bucket and the Gents hit nine free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Crowley’s free throw shooting, however, wasn’t what Boone had hoped for, either. Although they connected on nine shots from the charity stripe in the final 3 1/2 minutes, they also missed nine and went 12-of-24 from the line on the night.
“We always talk about finishing and we had a chance to distance ourselves there in the fourth quarter,” said Boone. “I know they are not up there trying to miss them but in a game like this, every point is important.
“Especially because we were doing such a good job of attacking the basket. To me, if you attack the basket and then miss two free throws, that’s a turnover. We have to get better at that.”
Overall, Mills led all scorers on the night with 19 points. He was followed by Damon Malbrough with eight points while Danny Malbrough had seven. Williams added six points and Davis scored four. Jesse Harmon and Jeremy Thomas rounded out the Gents’ scoring attack with two points each.
Michael Henry paced the Wolves with 17 points while Dannie Harmon and Broussard each had seven. Ian Papillion added five points while Charles Jones and Frank Leopaul each had two.