LAFAYETTE — Lafayette High used a strong third quarter to overcome a slow start and push its district record to 8-0 in a 45-36 win against New Iberia on its home court Tuesday night.
After scoring only 13 points in a tight first half, the Lions (19-3, 8-0) switched to a 1-3-1 zone to combat the Yellow Jackets’ (8-13, 4-3) effective offense, and they got their own offense going as a result.
“The key factor in the second half was switching defense to the 1-3-1,” Lafayette coach Clifton Brown said. “They did a great job with their man-to-man sets not allowing us to trap or not being impatient with our traps.
“When we got to the 1-3-1, we got them out of sync a little bit and we were able to pull away.”
The Lions forced turnovers on six straight possessions in the third quarter to turn a one-point deficit into a 10-point lead by the end of the period.
“We allowed them to get up and down on the open court, and that’s where they’re really good,” New Iberia coach Todd Russ said. “That’s where it got away from us.”
Lafayette guard Jevon Figaro closed the third quarter by hitting a 3-pointer from the corner, then forcing a steal and driving the length of the court to knock down a layup at the buzzer. He finished with a game-high 16 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc.
“Jevon really found his touch tonight,” Brown said. “Prior to this game, I don’t know the last time he hit a 3-point shot. It’s been several games. He was really big hitting some 3s for us and getting to the goal.”
But the Yellow Jackets didn’t wilt once the Lions pushed the lead to double digits. The senior guard scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter — including nine straight New Iberia points — at one point trimming the Lions’ lead to six with four minutes to play.
But Figaro was fouled on a driving layup, and he sank the free throw to put Lafayette back ahead by nine. Forward Christian Freeman was fouled as Figaro drilled the free throw, sending him to the free-throw line, where he connected on both of his attempts to put the Lions ahead by 11.
The Yellow Jackets refused to let an athletic Lions squad to dictate the pace of the game early.
The normally high-flying Lions scored only six points in the first quarter, then scoring just seven in the second.
“Lafayette High’s really good, man, and their record shows it,” Russ said. “We knew we couldn’t get in a track meet with those guys. Our game plan was to shorten the game and play keep-away.”
New Iberia slowed down the Lafayette attack with a ball control offense that occasionally held the ball for minutes at a time, continuously swinging the ball around the perimeter.
The Yellow Jackets didn’t even take their first shot until the first quarter was halfway over, and their first possession lasted for more than three minutes. But when they took their shots, they usually made them.
“Credit to Todd Russ and the kids,” Brown said. “They did a great job of being patient on the offense and not taking any bad shots.”