Prior to their second-round Spartan Classic game against West Jefferson last Thursday night, Donaldsonville hadn't played in almost a week. That time away from the court showed early.
Prior to their second-round Spartan Classic game against West Jefferson last Thursday night, Donaldsonville hadn’t played in almost a week. That time away from the court showed early.
In the first half, the Tigers could only muster 16 points, and they trailed by as many as 5 in the third quarter before finally turning the corner.
After hitting some 3-pointers in the fourth and making some big defensive stops in overtime, Donaldsonville was able to escape with a 50-49 victory.
“They did a good job of controlling the ball tonight, and it kept us out of transition. We like to play an up-tempo style of play,” Tiger head coach Lionel Gilbert said. “There’s no shot clock in high school, so we have to be creative on defense, and we have to be efficient on offense.”
The two teams met earlier in the season. Donaldsonville won that game by 9 points, but this time around, West Jefferson stubbornly hung around every step of the way.
After Jaqunn Mitchell hit a 3-pointer, the Tigers went up by 6 in the first quarter, but West Jefferson ended the period with two treys of their own to tie the game.
Donaldsonville got extremely sloppy in the second quarter. They turned the ball over and missed multiple layups and free throws.
This opened the door to an 11-1 run for West Jefferson that gave them a 4-point lead.
With the Tigers only making a single field goal in the quarter, the Buccaneers were able to take a 20-16 advantage into the half.
“Mentally, we just weren’t prepared to play,” Gilbert said. “I don’t think they were really focused on basketball. We also played these guys in the White Castle tournament. I think we took them for granted. I preached for the last three days that you can’t take anyone for granted. It’s hard to beat a team twice, and tonight proved that.”
Down 5 to start the third quarter, Donaldsonville reeled off a 10-0 run.
The spurt was helped by a put-back by Ladarius Jackson and a steal turned transition layup by Jacoby Simon.
It appeared the Tigers were ready to run West Jefferson out of the gym, but the Bucs responded with an 8-0 run of their own to take a 32-29 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Donaldsonville hit three 3-pointers—two from Simon and one from Jackson. The latter put them up 2.
When the Tigers fell back behind, Terry Holmes made a go-ahead bucket and hit one free throw to put Donaldsonville up 3.
Once again, West Jefferson came back to tie the game and send it to overtime.
In overtime, Simon hit one free throw to give Donaldsonville a 1-point lead.
Their defense them salted away the game. They stood up and made a huge stop, and Simon came up with the rebound to help the Tigers escape with a hard-fought 50-49 victory.
After being held to just 16 points in the first half, the Tiger offense exploded for 34 in the second half and in overtime.
“We were able to make a couple of stops and get out in transition. We were able to play man-to-man and get a little more ball pressure and force them to take tougher shots,” Gilbert said.
Donaldsonville was led by Simon—who finished with 17. Jackson was close behind with 14, and Holmes finished with 12.
The victory allowed the Tigers to even their record at 5-5 after falling below .500.
Coach Gilbert said that his team needs to improve, but there is tremendous potential for his squad.
“Once we can get healthy and get these younger guys some experience, I’m excited about the potential of this season,” Gilbert said. “Tonight, we kind of had to gut it out again. Hopefully, we can get the kinks out offensively and find a rhythm. We have to become more efficient.
“I like our effort defensively. I like our toughness on the boards. I think the spark is going to be getting out in transition. Everybody knows that we like to run, so teams are cutting the game in half.”