After Southern Lab trailed the entire first half against District 6-1A rival White Castle, Tyler Panyanouvong got an earful from Kittens coach Devan Clark.

The tongue-lashing proved to be a turning point for Southern Lab and Panyanouvong, who scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half to lead the Kittens to a 55-49 win at Southern’s F.G. Clark Activity Center.

“I had to refocus,” Panyanouvong said. “We were missing a lot of assignments on defense, but after he chewed me out I decided to pick it up.”

Early in the third quarter, Panyanouvong scored eight straight points as Lab (13-8, 3-0) took its first lead of the game. White Castle (16-6, 3-1) fought back to lead 37-33 going into the fourth quarter. Panyanouvong had eight points, an assist and a blocked shot

to help the Kittens outscore the Bulldogs 15-2, and take a 48-39 lead.

Tre Melancon’s 3-pointer and Keyon Giroir’s three-point play helped White Castle get as close as 53-49 with less than a minute remaining. Jacob Watkins, who scored 14 points, hit two free throws to ice the game for Lab.

“Our offense feeds off the way we play defense, and I think we just got caught up in the emotions of the game, trying to do too much,” Clark said. “We were focused on offense, not defense, and I was able to redirect our guys in the second half.”

Darian Pierce led White Castle with 14 while Tre Melancon made three 3-pointers and scored 13.

Both teams are in good shape to make the playoffs, but the win gives Lab, a Division IV competitor, the inside track to the District 6-1A title.

White Castle battled foul trouble in the second half, and had Tamarcus Fair and Kenneth Bracken both foul out in the game’s final two minutes.

“I hate to blame things on circumstances, but the fouls called were 18-4 against us. That was the difference in the game,” White Castle coach Troy Green said. “But Southern Lab played hard. Hats off to them and coach Clark because they always do a good job.”

Southern Lab trailed by as many as seven points in the first quarter. The Kittens got within 19-18 on Demond Brown’s second quarter basket, and went on to trail 24-20 at the half.

In the first game of the evening, Southern Lab’s girls pulled away from White Castle in the second half to post a 73-55 win

After taking a 35-26 halftime lead, the Kittens outscored the Bulldogs 12-0 to start the third quarter. White Castle got within 13 to start the fourth quarter, but Lab ran off 13 straight points to put the game out of reach.

Stephanie Stewart topped Lab with 29 points. White Castle’s Jaibreon Brown made five 3-pointers, and finished with 38 points.