St. Martinville coach Darrel Mitchell knows it won’t happen, but he wishes his team could just grow a couple of inches.
Mitchell watched his eighth-seeded Tigers get pounded on the glass by No. 9 Ellender in the regional round en route to a 54-43 loss.
“I actually thought we played well on the defensive end,” Mitchell said. “It was never the first shot that got us. It was the second, third or even fourth.”
“(Ellender) had one time where they had five shots at the basket. You can’t have that.”
St. Martinville only sports one player who stands over 6-foot tall, junior center Jevante Walker, while Ellender could utilize lineups featuring several players who all stood over 6-feet.
“I really don’t have any bigs, they can all play the guard spot,” Ellender coach Cornell Scott said. “We had 6-foot-5 guarding 5-foot-9, and that’s just a mismatch.”
The Tigers were able to hold their own in the first half, going into halftime with the score tied at 22.
Senior guard Bradley Savoy scored eight of his 12 points in the first half, including two 3-pointers.
Scott said his team focused before the game on staying in front of St. Martinville’s dangerous perimeter players, but struggled in the opening quarter to find their matchups.
“We wanted to stay in front of them, we wanted to make sure we kept our man. We lost them a little bit in the beginning,” Scott said. “(Savoy) hit some shots when we couldn’t find him, but once we got in front of them it seemed like our length really bothered them.”
Ellender’s Leland Alexander finished with 13 points, the majority of which came off put-backs after crashing the offensive boards.
The Patriots’ dominance on the glass manifested itself in the second half, as Walker steadily got into foul trouble.
Scott said it wasn’t a conscious effort by his team to get Walker into foul trouble, but it was a by-product of the team’s overall offensive strategy.
“We just wanted to attack the middle, and if he stepped up we wanted to attack him strong,” Scott said. “Once we started attacking him and attacking him he started swinging and he picked up those fouls.”
The Patriots’ ability to rebound off missed free throws salvaged what was a poor performance at the free throw line on the night, with Ellender shooting 4-for-15 at the foul line.
“The rebounding, the second chance shots, that’s what killed us,” Mitchell said. “They missed free throws like crazy and we couldn’t get the rebound.”
Mitchell said the physical nature of the game furthered his team’s size advantage, and thought Ellender used its length to go over-the-top to snag some of its rebounds.
“They were reaching over, but it just wasn’t being called. (The refs) didn’t give us any of those calls, they didn’t call many of those over-the-tops,” Mitchell said. “In spite of all that we were able to stay in the game and we had a chance, but we made some crucial turnovers and took some poor shots at the end there.”
Ellender advances to face Salmen in the quarterfinal round.