LAFAYETTE — During a timeout late in Tuesday night’s game at Northside, an unidentified Vikings fan ran on the court and held up a cardboard cutout of Darius Randell’s face to the home stands. The crowd erupted with applause and that public display of adulation was for good reason.
The Vikings senior shooting guard scored a game-high 30 points, including 15 in the final quarter, as Northside picked up a 62-52 victory over District 4-4A foe Carencro.
“I was real nervous at first,” Randell said. “I just figured that my teammates needed me. I put everything on my back.”
Northside (15-7, 3-0) used a matchup zone defense to stymie Carencro in the first quarter as the Vikings built a 13-8 lead after the first eight minutes. The Golden Bears fought back as Braylon Chasisson led the way, scoring five of his 12 points in the quarter.
At halftime, Northside, thanks to a pair of Randell free throws, held a 22-21 lead.
Carencro (17-7, 1-2) got a spark in the third quarter from Araden Adams, who had suffered an undisclosed injury in warmups and was forced to miss the first half. Adams scored four points, pulled down a rebound, blocked a shot and got a steal to help the Bears build up a six-point lead.
Adams, though, could only play for a little more than four minutes and sat the remainder of the game.
Northside answered as Randell had a three-point play and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions. At the end of the third quarter, Northside led 38-37.
Carencro started the final period with a bucket underneath by Chasisson, but the Bears went ice cold the rest of the way, not scoring another bucket until a Craig St. Julien put-back shot with 1:54 left.
“In the first quarter, they had us out of sync with their defense,” Carencro coach Christopher Kovatch said. “In the second quarter we tried to change the tempo and got back in it. In the third, though, we forgot what got us back in it and then in the fourth we did a very poor job of executing our game plan.”
Northside meanwhile seized control of the quarter and game by responding to Chasisson’s bucket with a dominant 15-0 run.
By the time the game clock dropped below two minutes, the chants of “Northside! Northside! Northside!” had become deafening from the crowd that filled nearly every inch of the stands and gym floor.
“It is a great win for us,” said Northside coach Ross Rix, whose team returns to action Friday at Beau Chene. “It puts at 3-0 in district play and in contention for the district title.”
In addition to Randell’s performance, Jante Morrison added 13, while Brandon Ellis chipped in 10. Dandre Dudley paced Carencro with 15 points.
Afterwards as the band played while marching toward the exit doors of the gym, Tuesday’s hardwood hero reflected on how much he and the rest of the Vikings had grown since last season, when the team went 14-15 in the regular season and then dealt with the tragedy of former teammate Jo’Nathan Delacroix dying from an accidental gunshot wound in May.
“The biggest difference is that last year this team would have given up,” Randell said. “We are mentally tougher this year.
“Plus, we got a solider up in heaven cheering us on.”