Tigers fight back to outlast Assumption

Kyle Riviere
Aaron Julien led the Tigers with a game-high 20 in their victory over Assumption. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Already two games under .500 and eyeing the competitive Plaquemine tournament next week, Donaldsonville was desperate for a victory against Assumption last Wednesday night at home.

They jumped out an early 11-point lead, but the Mustangs responded. They started out hot in the second half and regained a 5-point advantage.

Like they have been forced to do many times this season, the Tigers had to scratch and claw to get the lead back. They did just that, hanging on for a 62-54 victory.

“With this group of guys, I’ve learned that they’re going to play when their backs are against the wall,” Donaldsonville head coach Lionel Gilbert said. “It’s a good trait to have, but you don’t want to go to the well too many times. I was real pleased with the way these guys responded. As I told them, ‘This is our last home game of 2016, so let’s lay it all out on the line,’ and they did.”

The Tigers got off to a great start in the first quarter.

After a back-and-forth first few minutes, Donaldsonville was able to create some separation with easy buckets following turnovers.

Jacoby Smith came up with a steal and launched an outlet pass to Aaron Julien, who finished with a layup. Julien then followed it up with a steal of his own, followed by another transition layup to complete a 12-2 run that gave the Tigers an 11-point advantage.

“I was real pleased with our start offensively,” Gilbert said. “The guys really executed the game plan. We wanted to work it inside and use our size advantage, and I think the guys did a real good job working that game plan, executing and making shots.”

Down 19-10 to start the second quarter, Assumption quickly got back in the game with two 3-pointers.

Julien once again had the answer for Donaldsonville as he scored two straight buckets—one being a graceful layup in traffic to put the Tiger lead back to 9.

However, the Mustangs had another run in them. They outscored Donaldsonville, 8-0, to trim the deficit to 1.

Jacoby Simon nailed a 3-pointer right before the half to give the Tigers a 29-26 lead at the break.

“In the second quarter, they got off to a real hot start,” Gilbert said. “Defensively, we had some letdowns. We let them get out in transition, which is a big no-no against this group of guys. They have guards on the floor, and they like to run.”

Assumption kept running to start the second half. They went on a quick 8-0 spurt to give them their first lead since early in the first quarter.

Down 5, Donaldsonville stood tall.

Simon made four straight free throws during a 6-1 Tiger stretch that tied the game. Jermaine Collier then made a big put-back to regain a 2-point advantage for Donaldsonville.

Assumption made a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter that tied the game, but Julien answered right back with a 3-pointer of his own.

The pace of the quarter was frenetic, and both teams got sloppy with the ball.

Donaldsonville was able to make three straight trips to the free-throw line, but they only made three of six shots, keeping their lead at just 4 points.

Though, that was enough for the Tigers with the way they were playing defense.

They made some huge stops down the stretch, and a big drunk by Terry Holmes and two big free throws by Julien allowed them to put the game away.

“That was just sheer effort,” Gilbert said. “Like I always tell them, ‘It doesn’t take a whole lot of talent to play defense. You just have to want to.’ Tonight, in spurts, we wanted to. I was real pleased with that second-to-last possession coming out of a timeout. They ran what they wanted to run, and we just smothered them. Help side was perfect, and the communication was great. That’s what we practice. That’s the way we want to play.”

In the victory, Julien led the Tigers with a game-high 20 points. Collier followed with 14, and Simon added 11.

The victory improved Donaldsonville’s overall record to 8-9.

This week, they’ll hit the road to compete in the Plaquemine tournament, and next week, they’ll officially begin District 6-3A play.