Tigers cut down nets after quarterfinal win
As Donaldsonville continued to pile up win after win and dominate its district throughout the regular season, it was obvious that the team had the potential to be special.
Now the Tigers’ potential has been realized. They are special. The proof is in the pudding.
In front of a raucous home crowd on Friday night, Donaldsonville jumped all over fifth-seeded Iowa early and never let up. In the end, the Tigers cruised to a 62-50 victory that punched their ticket to the state semifinals for the first time since 2014.
“I’m so proud. It’s unbelievable,” Donaldsonville head coach Lionel Gilbert said. “These guys set goals and went to work every day. It’s not over with, but we’re one step closer. It’s a life lesson. These guys share the basketball, and they play hard for each other. It’s all about sharing and caring with your teammates and loving your brothers. That’s what I love about this team. And I love that we could bring this community together.”
Heading into the matchup, Donaldsonville and Iowa looked very similar on paper. Both teams had won at least 26 games, and both teams only lost four times during the regular season.
But it was evident within the first two minutes of the game that Donaldsonville was the better team. The Tigers used their speed and athleticism to overwhelm Iowa early in the contest.
The Yellowjackets had no answer for Tiger point guard Lawrence Forcell. His lightning-quick drives to the goal for easy layups helped Donaldsonville run out to a 14-0 lead right out of the gates.
“We were focused. We’ve been working for this all year long,” Gilbert said. “I told them that we were 32 minutes away and that they had to believe. I told them that they created this opportunity, so they needed to seize the moment. It was time to go to work, and they did. I’m so proud of them.”
Donaldsonville held a 20-7 lead after one quarter. Forcell scored 12 of those points.
In the second, Jakai Allen nailed a 3-pointer to push the lead to 18.
To begin the third quarter, Iowa trimmed the deficit down to 15, but a trey by Raiyen Oatis swelled the Tiger advantage back to 18. Then a steal and coast-to-coast drive and layup by Troy Cole pushed the lead to 20.
Iowa finally began to have some success at the end of the third.
The Yellowjackets cut the deficit down to 15 heading to the fourth, and they trimmed it down to just nine late in the game.
But Donaldsonville had all the answers. Back-to-back layups by Oatis and Robert Kent pushed the Tiger lead back to 13 points.
From there, Donaldsonville closed out the 62-50 victory.
Throughout the game, the Tigers got a huge boost from the home crowd. The gym was packed, and the fans’ cheers were deafening from the opening tip until the final seconds rolled off of the clock.
“It’s beautiful. This is what the city needs,” Gilbert said. “They show so much love. They love our kids. I told the team that they’re doing God’s work. They’re bringing the community together. And that’s really what I’m most proud of.”
In the victory, Forcell led the way for the Tigers with 21 points. Both Oatis and Kent scored 13. Cole netted 10 points.
It was the 30th win for the Tigers this season. And now, for the first time in nearly a decade, they head to Marsh Madness. This year, it will be held in Lake Charles.
Donaldsonville will now face top-seeded Madison Prep in the semifinals.