LAFAYETTE — Playing away from home is always difficult, but playing at St. Thomas More always presents a special challenge.
The Cougars (15-6, 3-0) used their homecourt advantage to jump out to a commanding 13-point first quarter lead en route to a 63-47 victory against Breaux Bridge (7-10, 2-2).
“I think the crowd really helped. We had a great Friday night crowd,” St. Thomas More coach Danny Broussard said. “It is just a tough environment to play in, and I’m really excited for our guys.”
The Cougars jumped on the Tigers early, with forward Peter Kishbaugh hitting three shots from beyond the 3-point arc on his way to a team-high 19 points.
Kisbaugh shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and the Cougars led 21-8 at the end of the first quarter.
St. Thomas More used crisp ball movement and shooting from the outside to shred the Tigers man-to-man defense in the first quarter.
The Cougars coupled their efficient offense with a stifling 1-3-1 defense, which helped shut down the Tigers outside shooters.
“That was big because (Breaux Bridge) is a young team, a talented team, but a young one,” Broussard said. “So I told our guys in the dressing room not to let these guys stick around for too long. We need to get on them early.”
Breaux Bridge coach Kevin BonHomme said the Cougars early run had more to do with what his team didn’t do rather than what the Cougars did.
“We had a lot of mistakes, we didn’t make any baskets and we missed a lot of our free throws,” BonHomme said. “And they were making their shots, so we dug ourselves a hole. We tried to dig our way out in the second half, but that got killed and that was that.”
Broussard said before the game he was concerned about Breaux Bridge’s ability to shoot the ball, and shutting down those shooters was his top priority in practice.
St. Thomas More was anchored low by center Will Vincent, who influenced the Tigers drivers and held them to one shot per possession.
“Our defense was really good early on. We were only giving up on shot per possession,” Broussard said. “We were just aggressive, and I like the way we are playing right now.”
The Tigers cut the deficit to nine points after a thunderous Galen Alexander slam, but their run was squashed on the ensuing two possessions by the Cougars.
Broussard said the two possessions after the Alexander dunk were the key to the game and helped the Cougars seal the victory.
“They made a run; they had a big dunk that got them fired up because it was a great play by a great athlete. I even had to admire that dunk,” Broussard said. “I was really pleased by the next two possessions. We took a little air out of the ball and we got two good looks at the basket and that was huge.”
“Had they not done that, the nine-point lead we had might have gone down to five, so I thought those two possessions were the key to the game.”
BonHomme said the Tigers have come back from deficits to win their past two games, so they were experienced playing from behind, but could never get over the hump.
“We came out with a little more intensity in the second half, started attacking the basket and got some steals, which I told them was the way we would make our run,” BonHomme said.
Alexander, who used his explosive athletic ability to finish at the rim and a deadly 3-point stroke to hit from long range, led Breaux Bridge with 22 points on 9-of-21 shooting.
St. Thomas More will continue its season against rival Teurlings Catholic on Tuesday, and Breaux Bridge will take on Cecillia in another District 5-4A matchup.