Tigers bounce back for first district win
When you play in the unforgiving District 6-3A, falling in an 0-2 hole is a recipe for disaster.
That's why Donaldsonville's Friday night matchup with Glen Oaks was so important as they came off of a tough road loss to Baker from earlier in the week.
The Tigers fought off the 0-2 slide by jumping on top of Glen Oaks, 24-11, in the first half.
Though the Panthers made runs in the second half, Donaldsonville was always able to respond. Behind a balanced attack that saw five players score at least 8 points, the Tigers pulled out the victory, 54-45.
"We went to Baker, and I told them that it would be a fun environment. We came up a little short, but tonight was huge because it's important to get that first win," Donaldsonville head coach Lionel Gilbert said. "When you get that first district win, you can take a deep breath and you know you have a good shot to finish strong. We take it one game at a time, and this was a big step in the right direction."
The Tigers started off fast. With two free throws by Jacoby Simon, they jumped out to an 8-3 lead.
Glen Oaks converted two 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 2, but an acrobatic layup by Ladarius Jackson sparked a Tiger run that put them up 15-8 at the end of the opening quarter.
In the second, the Donaldsonville defense began forcing turnovers in bunches. This led to a 10-1 Tiger run.
Aaron Julien made a steal and finished with a coast-to-coast layup. That was followed by Simon forcing a steal and finishing it off with a huge dunk that ignited the crowd.
In holding Glen Oaks to just one second-quarter field goal, Donaldsonville led comfortably, 24-11, at the half.
"The defensive intensity and rotation were huge. The guys really dug their heels in on the defensive side. We held them to just 11 points in that first half," Gilbert said. Offensively, we had some good ball movement, guys were unselfish and the ball moved crisply. We made good decisions, and I think we handled their zone really well. We were able to exploit some of their weaknesses."
Donaldsonville got sloppy to start the third quarter. The lapse allowed the Panthers to go on a 6-0 spurt to trim the lead to 8.
But the Tigers had an answer. A bucket by Dwayne Johnson sparked an 8-3 run that put them back up by 13.
Glen Oaks later cut the deficit to 9, but a Jacoby Smith steal that ended with a impressive dunk by Terry Holmes finished up a rally that put the Tigers up 40-27 heading into the fourth.
In the final period, Johnson scored 5 straight points for Donaldsonville to stretch the advantage to 14.
Glen Oaks' last gasp was a 9-3 flurry that got them within 8, but they couldn't get any closer.
The Tiger defense made all the necessary stops in a 54-45 victory.
"That's the sign of maturity. We didn't drop our heads or pout; we just kept playing," Gilbert said. "With the schedule like it is, I don't think there's anything these guys haven't been through. They know basketball is a game of runs. We had a good run in the first half, and they came out and had a nice run in that second half. Then, we made another run. These guys are battle-tested."
Johnson led the way for Donaldsonville with 13 points. Holmes was close behind with 10, Simon and Julien each had 9 and Smith finished with 8.
The victory not only evened up the Tigers' district record at 1-1, but it also evened up their overall record at 11-11.
It won't get any easier for the Tigers. This Friday night, they'll go on the road to face Parkview Baptist.