The Northside High School basketball team defeated St. Louis 69-56 Thursday night in its opening contest of the first Big Dave Classic basketball tournament hosted by the Vikings in the honor of Acadiana-area radio personality and basketball staple David Thibodeaux.

The contest remained tight for three quarter, neither team gaining a lead more than eight points until the fourth quarter, when Northside finally ran away with it.

“We played hard, and I had some guys step up,” Northside coach Ross Rix said. “It’s a good win, but we can’t celebrate too long. We’ve got a big game tomorrow.”

The Vikings led the majority of the contest but never could quite put the Saints away. With the game tied at 24 apiece, Northside scored seven quick points to take a 31-24 lead late in the second quarter and led 32-26 at halftime.

St. Louis opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run that tied the game at 36 apiece before Northside countered with a 17-5 run that finally put the game out of reach.

Lafayette dropped its opening game of the tournament to St. Stephens Episcopal from Austin, Texas, as one of the top prospects in the country, senior center Jarrett Allen dropped 18 points, 16 rebounds and nine blocks against the Lions.

In earlier games, Washington-Marion defeated Madison Prep 60-59 after a game-winning dunk by Christian Edwards, who finished with 25, and Peabody defeated Southern Lab 79-55.

Northside will play Washington-Marion on Friday at 8:30 p.m. and St. Stephens will take on Peabody at 7 p.m.

The Lions did a good job of limiting Allen’s touches in the first half, as he shot just 1-for-4 from the field for four points in the first half, allowing Lafayette to build a 27-17 lead at halftime.

“We couldn’t have played any better in the first half,” Lafayette coach Clifton Brown said. “We hit some shots and did a good job of defending (Allen).”

That lead quickly diminished as St. Stephens got the ball to Allen in the post, and they quickly scored on the first possession of the third quarter. That became a regular sight for the remainder of the contest.

By the end of the third quarter, the Spartans took a 36-35 lead and never trailed again on their way to the convincing victory.

The Lions struggled offensively in the second half, especially in the post, as Allen picked up a bulk of his nine blocks late in the game. St. Stephens outscored Lafayette 38-15 in the second half.

“We had some good looks, but (Allen) dictated the game by blocking some shots,” Brown said. “We didn’t get any good look inside at all. Some of my big guys got a little discouraged after he blocked their shots.”

Lafayette guard Ahmad Onezine led the Lions with 16 points, shooting 4-for-8 from beyond the arc.

St. Stephens coach Lamont King, a native of Waterproof, who knew Dave Thibodeaux from his high school days, said he considers it a privilege to return to Louisiana and play in a tournament in Thibodeaux’s honor.

“It’s an honor to for me to have an opportunity to come and play in this tournament,” King said. “I knew coach Dave from a young age when he was president of Team Louisiana when I was in high school. When coach Rix said they were having this tournament for him, I knew we had to come.”