NEW IBERIA — A packed house at Catholic-New Iberia got their money’s worth Friday night, as Jeanerette defeated Catholic-New Iberia 78-70 in a back-and-forth battle.
The victory gives Jeanerette (15-8, 7-0 District 5-2A) sole possession of first place in District 5-2A, while Catholic-New Iberia (12-5, 4-1) falls to second place.
“A district win on the road is always a good jump start, but we have to continue to take it one game at a time,” Jeanerette coach Darrell Caesar said.
From the tip, Jeanerette got the majority of its offensive momentum from Paul Richard. Richard was a threat driving to the basket, and from 3-point range.
Jeanerette’s early momentum was put on hold with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, as referees and scoring officials discovered a discrepancy in the rosters in the official books.
Catholic-New Iberia capitalized, making four free throws after a four-minute stoppage of play.
“It was a hostile environment,” Caesar said. “I just tried to settle my guys down. They did a good job of holding their composure.”
A nice dribble and score from senior forward Nick Brown gave Catholic-New Iberia a 16-15 lead as time expired in the first quarter.
The Tigers and Panthers continued to battle back and forth in the second quarter.
A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Richard from the top of the key gave the Tigers a 34-31 advantage at halftime.
“(Richard) has been doing this since he was a freshman,” Caesar said.
“He is a gamer. For big games, he will show up and perform.”
With less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Brown scored on a driving layup, cutting the Tigers lead to 38-37.
However, the Tigers answered right back with a 3-pointer on the wing by Richard.
Richard gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the night, 48-42, with another 3-pointer with 3:25 left in the third. Richard found the bottom of the net yet again near the end of the third to give Jeanerette a nine-point lead.
With four minutes remaining in the contest, Jeanerette guard Travis Jones recorded a big steal near midcourt and finished with a layup to give the Tigers a four-point advantage.
After a 3-pointer from Richard, forward Darien Kiel provided the clinching shot with a tip-in the final minute.
“We played the 4A and 5A schools early on this season, allowing us to get used to playing at a faster pace,” Caesar said.
“We just did what we do. We played hard-nosed defense, got the ball out of the net and pushed the ball down their throats.”