YOUNGSVILLE — St. Thomas More’s DeVante Benjamin followed up his 28-point effort Friday night against Northside with 25 points Saturday in the one-game playoff to determine the District 4-4A championship at Ascension Episcopal.
STM coach Danny Broussard said Benjamin was “the man” as he led the Cougars to a 57-53 win.
“He was the man (Friday) and he was the man (Saturday),” Broussard said of Benjamin. “He took the game over and willed it for us. He made a big 3, he made the big layup and three-point play. He was awesome.”
The two games played out a little different, with Northside playing the Cougars tough, even holding a 51-49 lead late in the fourth quarter. Benjamin had a big layup and one at the end and the Cougars closed on a 8-2 run.
“We wanted to come out here with these two games and prove who the better team was,” Benjamin said. “We wanted to win a district championship. I owe it to my team. I can’t take all the credit. I just didn’t want to come up short.”
Broussard gave credit to Northside for bouncing back after a blowout loss Friday night.
“We had to work for everything we could get,” Broussard said. “They came in with a great game plan and they took it to us, but our kids battled the whole game and never gave up. Once we got the lead, we spread them out, and they had a hard time covering us.”
Broussard and Northside coach Ross Rix pointed to a lack of depth on the Vikings bench as being a reason for the outcome. Northside lost Darius Randell for eight minutes in the third and fourth quarters because of foul trouble, but Rix said he was glad to see his team remain competitive without one of his top players.
“It is big because we don’t have a lot of depth,” Rix said. “It’s big when we lost one of our key guys to foul trouble, and Darius was in foul trouble pretty much all night. We had some guys step up, and we just have to continue to step up.
“Our kids played extremely hard tonight. It’s not the end of the road. These were some tough losses, but our big goal is still ahead of us and it is still attainable. We just have to prepare to get on this run.”
Broussard got a technical foul with 8.1 seconds in the third quarter with his team up 42-41 with the ball. Broussard said his team bailed him out Saturday. He said he thinks he has the right group to make a run at the state championship.
“My guys said, ‘Coach, we got you. We’ll get you out of it.’ That is the kind of guys I have. To win back-to-back nights against a good team, I think we are ready for the playoffs. We are ready to make a run.”