Comeaux High School’s boys basketball team battled defending Class 5A state champion Natchitoches Central tough before dropping Tuesday’s game.

The 5-3 Spartans, comprised of mostly underclassmen ,were unable to fend off the Chiefs (10-2), led by Cameron Lard, who scored 19 points in Natchitoches Central’s 58-49 victory.

Comeaux coach Jeremy Whittington said the game was his team’s best this season.

“We just played the defending state champs. We’re 5-3 now. This is a young group that just battled, to me, the best team in the state,” Whittington said. “For our kids to step up and battle with them, says a lot. We flat out did the best job I felt like we could have done.”

Comeaux started strong, leading the Chiefs early, but a rebound and an easy layup for the 6-foot-9 Lard put Natchitoches Central up 9-8.

Lard continued to take advantage of Comeaux in the post, where Whittington said his team was unable to properly guard Lard for the whole game.

“(Natchitoches Central’s) post game is better than anybody in the state. They have the biggest kid, state MVP of the finals last year. He’s what it is,” Whittington said.

“Every time we didn’t front the post like we were supposed to, they got the ball and scored.”

Comeaux trailed by 10 points at halftime, a lead the Chiefs maintained for much of the rest of the night.

Going into the fourth period down 42-29, the Spartans became reinvigorated, going on a five-point run to narrow the Chiefs’ lead to eight.

But Natchitoches Central responded with four points, opening up the lead to 12.

However, Comeaux kept fighting, making two free throws with four minutes left in to bring the lead back down to 10. The Spartans quickly followed that with a Devaughn Thomas dunk, two of his 10 points.

Down by 11, Comeaux’s Hunter Register hit a 3-pointer and converted a free throw following a layup to put Comeaux within eight. Register finished with 11 points. But Natchitoches Central had the answer whenever Comeaux tried to get closer.

“I think we had some kids play extremely well,” Whittington said. “We made it very tough on them at times to score. I felt like we did everything to prepare our kids 100 percent to win this basketball game.”