For the first three quarters of Monday night’s nondistrict matchup between Class 3A Brusly and Class 4A South Lafourche, nothing separated the programs.
Then came the fourth quarter.
The Tarpons got hot in the closing minutes, outscoring Brusly 20-12 in the final period to hand the Panthers their first loss this season 52-44 on their home court.
“I think we got in a little rhythm,” said South Lafourche coach Brian Callais of the Tarpons’ explosive fourth quarter. “(A) couple of guys made some shots and they got a little excited. I think our defense was tremendous the entire game.”
Brusly (7-1) started fast as South Lafourche (5-3) took several minutes to adjust. Couple that with the considerable size difference and the Panthers were in complete control early on.
That momentum disappeared as fast as it came, though, as the Tarpons fought back to a two-point deficit in the first quarter.
The two teams were tied at the end of each of the next two periods, trading the lead back and forth.
It wasn’t until about five minutes to play in the fourth quarter that either side pulled ahead. That's when South Lafourche got hot from behind the 3-point line.
The Tarpons went 8 of 16 from 3-point range, while Brusly finished 4 of 20 from the same mark.
“I thought we got a little rattled,” Brusly coach Kirby Loupe said. “We missed some point-blank layups that turned into we miss a layup here, they turn and we lose the man in transition, they hit a 3 and it’s a five-point swing.
“I thought the kids played hard, but give (the Tarpons) credit. Their kids played smart. They played hard. They outplayed us tonight.”
Loupe said some of those minor mistakes began to have a snowball effect on the Panthers particularly in the final few minutes.
With South Lafourche pulling ahead, both teams picked up the physicality and urgency across the court.
But by then it was too late for Brusly to make a comeback.
Center Darryl Jones led the Panthers with 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of those games to this point,” Loupe said. “Tonight, it just didn't fall. Credit South Lafourche. They deserved to win.”
TUESDAY GAMES: Two sets of 2017 title-game teams square off Tuesday night. Madison Prep, last year's 2A champion, and Division V runner-up Jehovah-Jireh meet at Istrouma High. It will be the first varsity game played at Istrouma since the school reopened this fall. The Indians are playing junior varsity basketball this season and next season.
The other titan matchup has Dunham, the Division III runner-up in March, traveling to play Division I champion Scotlandville. Both games start at approximately 7 p.m.