CARENCRO — For the better part of three quarters Friday night, the Carencro Golden Bears looked lost as a slew of errant passes, off-the-mark shots and defensive miscues kept the home team trailing on the scoreboard.
That all changed with a big fourth-quarter performance.
No. 16 Carencro began the final period on a 13-2 run and went on to pull out a 69-66 victory over No. 17 Leesville in the opening round of the Class 4A boys basketball playoffs.
Carencro will now face District 4-4A foe St. Thomas More, a No. 1 seed, in the second round.
“There is something to be said when you play as bad as we did for most of the game but you still win,” Carencro coach Christopher Kovatch said.
After a back-and-forth first quarter, Leesville took control of Carencro’s off-balanced play in the second quarter with a 9-0 run early in the period. Carencro (23-9) cut the lead to six but Leesville pushed back it up to 10 points.
At halftime, the Wampus Cats held an eight-point lead over the Golden Bears.
“We had a really bad week of practice,” Kovatch said. “You don’t expect that with everything we have been working for since last April. That bad week of practice carried over into the game, especially those first two quarters.”
Things started to click for Carencro (23-9) in the third quarter as the Bears cut the lead down to five a handful of times. Momentum slowly began to go Carencro’s way as Travis Zeno hit a 3-pointer late in the quarter, and the Bears ended the quarter trailing by four.
Then came the fourth quarter.
Carencro’s Travis Zeno started off the fourth with a 3-pointer, which cut Leesville’s lead down to 47-46, and moments later gave the Bears the lead with a turnaround floater in the lane.
“My teammates gave me the opportunity to get my open shot,” Zeno said. “I just wanted my seniors to play another game.”
After a charge was called on Leesville at the other end, it was Braylon Chaisson’s turn to put his stamp on the Bears run. With Leesville’s Darrion Nabors guarding him, Chaisson drained a 3-pointer from the right corner and then a mere moments later, he drained another 3-pointer over Nabors.
“He just gave me a little room, and I took advantage of it,” said Chaisson, who finished with 18 points.
A pair of free throws by Araden Adams pushed Carencro’s lead to seven points, moments later the lead swelled to nine with 3:49 left. Adams, who had missed several games because of injuries and suspension, came off the bench to score 13 points in the second half.
Leesville (21-14) managed to cut the lead to four at the 3:02 mark, but Zeno once again answered with another 3-pointer. Adams followed that with another pair of free throws to push the lead back up to nine.
Zeno led the Bears with 23 points.
Carencro now gears up with a fourth meeting with STM, which defeated them in the three previous meetings, with two of those games being by three points and one point.
Zeno said the Bearus can’t afford to come out slow like they did Friday.
“We got to come with the same intensity we did in the fourth quarter,” Zeno said.