LAFAYETTE — With his team leading by five at halftime, Northside boys basketball coach Ross Rix made it clear to his Vikings that he wanted a prideful defensive effort to start the second half against Lafayette High.
The Vikings responded by outscoring Lafayette High 18-5 in the third quarter to take complete control and cruise to a 60-44 road win Monday.
“We talked at halftime about taking some pride and getting some stops,” Rix said. “In the first quarter and second quarter, we gave them too many easy buckets. We locked down defensively.”
Northside’s Darius Randall had 12 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, seven of which came in a 14-2 run during the third quarter. Jonté Morrison also chipped in a big second half for Northside (13-6), scoring nine of his 15 points in the final 20 mintues.
“Randall had a big game for us,” Rix said. “He hasn’t been playing extremely well, but tonight he stepped it up and did better.”
An otherwise clean game was played at the foul line for most of the fourth quarter. Lafayette High (7-8) sank 10 of its 11 fourth-quarter free throws to chip away at the lead, with Keshawn Young making six of his seven attempts on his way to a team-high 16 points. Northside responded by making six of its seven free throw attempts. The teams combined to shoot just nine free throws in the first three quarters.
Northside looked like it was on the verge of snapping off a big run to take control a couple of times in the first half, but each time the Lions answered with a small run to keep the game tight.
After opening the game trading punches, the Vikings went on a 9-0 first-quarter run, the last five points of which came off the hand of Darius Randall, to take a 14-6 lead. The Lions responded by scoring the last six points of the first quarter and the first two of the second to tie it up.
Northside ripped off a seven-point run immediately after, but Lafayette High again answered with six straight points to cut the lead to one.
But that would be the closest the Lions could get.
“I thought the key factor in the game was that they disrupted our flow offensively,” Lafayette coach Clifton Brown said. “We didn’t do a good job executing and making adjustments. I thought we did show a little character in fighting back, but we had some lulls and, at the end of the day, we put ourselves in a hole too deep to pull out of.”
The Lions won’t have to dwell on the loss long: They open district play against Sam Houston at home Tuesday night.
“We’re 15 games in (and) we’re 7-8; it’s one of those moments where we’re at a crossroad,” Brown said. “We just have to decide whether we want to go down the winning road or the losing road. The kids have shown a little character through adversity, and I think they’re going to fight back and we’ll have a good outing (Tuesday).”
Northside doesn’t plan on letting the enjoyment of a big win linger with a talented Breaux Bridge squad coming to town Friday.
“It’s definitely a big win, we’re excited about it,” Rix said, “but we can’t live with it too long. We’ve got to get ready for Friday.”