SCOTT — The New Iberia defense took a page out of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast Mode” playbook in the first half against Acadiana on Monday.
The Yellow Jackets busted open a 10-point lead at halftime after allowing only four Rams points in the second quarter. New Iberia had three players in double figures, led by senior Josh Hamilton’s 16 in a 50-42 win.
“I thought we played a heck of a first half defensively,” New Iberia coach Todd Russ said. “We limited them to one shot, and they actually just threw up a couple that went in. That second quarter allowed us to get some breathing room, but we make a bad play (in the third quarter), and instead of us putting it away, we allow them to get back in it.”
Acadiana rallied in the third quarter to cut the New Iberia lead to four. The Rams got six points from LaDrakkus Thomas in the third quarter. Thomas led all Rams with 13.
Rams coach Dwayne Searle said he was pleased with his team’s effort to get back into the game, but the New Iberia effort in the first half was just too much to overcome.
“We didn’t have the intensity we needed,” Searle said. “We didn’t handle their tempo and pressure, and we struggled to score in that first half. They overplayed the passing lanes, and it was tough to get it inside.
“We missed some shots, and we rushed, and when you rush, you miss a lot of shots. It was sort of a snowball effect, and when you get that far down, it’s tough to come back on a good team.”
Hamilton took over the game in the second quarter and consistently put the Jackets on his back down the stretch. According to Russ, New Iberia’s chances for any success this season depend on Hamilton’s ability to score at will.
“We go as he goes,” Russ said. “We try to move him around and put him in different positions to score. He went through a stretch there where he carried us. When things got tough, he stepped up and performed like a senior should. We’re hoping in the next few games he can keep it going.”
With the game seemingly in hand at the end of the fourth quarter, the Jackets couldn’t quite put the game away at the free-throw line. In the final three minutes, New Iberia was 3-of-8 from the line, something Russ said is not going to win many basketball games.
“Free throws have been our Achilles heel,” he said. “We missed our shots and gave them life. We go down on defense, get a stop, then miss the free throws. We make those, and the game becomes out of reach.”
“We got the guys we wanted there, but you just cannot go 3-for-8 down the stretch. We were fortunate to get out of here with a win.”