LAKE CHARLES — Southern Lab coach Devan Clark could not hide his frustration and disappointment.
The fourth-seeded Kittens had top-seeded Lafayette Christian on ropes and held a 15-point lead seconds into the fourth quarter. Instead, Southern Lab got tied up in knots. Seven turnovers and 4 of 12 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter was the only opening the Knights needed.
Lafayette Christian outscored Southern Lab 26-6 in the final period to claim a 41-34 victory in a Division IV semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Basketball tournament Monday night.
“I can’t sugar coat it. That’s a championship team over there. They wanted it more than us,” Clark said as he shook his head. “We’ve been through a lot this year, but when we’ve got a team like that down by double digits in the second half and we come out on the losing end, that’s our fault.”
Terrance Jones scored 11 points to lead LCA, including a go-ahead 3-pointer that made it 35-32 with 2:29 remaining. Tyler Panyanouvong finished with a game-high 13 points for Southern Lab.
Shooting was not a strong suit for either team. LCA was 1-for-10 from the field and first quarter and had made just 18.5 percent of its shots (5 of 27) through three quarters. SLHS did make 35.5 percent of its shots.
The key difference was free throws. Southern Lab finished 11 of 27 for the game. Lafayette Christian (23-5) was 21 of 29, including 17 of 23 in the decisive fourth quarter.
The score was tied at 2-2 until SLHS’ Panyanouvong made a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:31 remaining. With Panyanouvong scoring seven first-quarter points, Southern Lab had a 9-2 lead.
Southern Lab disguised its zone defense that limited touches for LCA’s top player, St. John’s signee, Greg Williams Jr. very well. Williams did not score until he made two free throws with 1:56 left in the half and had just seven points overall.
A Jones’ layup off an SLHS turnover made it an 11-9 game at the 4:55 mark. Southern Lab closed out the half with an 7-1 run and led 18-12 at halftime. A 10-1 surge extended the Kittens’ lead to 28-13 in the third quarter. LCA scored just two field goals in the period and went 4:45 without scoring.
Lafayette Christian turned up its defense intensity in the fourth quarter. Clark said the Kittens’ fundamentals broke down as they tried to make individual plays.
“It was little things … like not meeting passes,” SLHS’ Quincy Mitchell said. ‘We got away from what we were supposed to do.”
LCA’s Jones tied it 32-32 with two free throws at the 2:42 mark and then hit the go-ahead 3-pointer.
“These guys just didn’t want their season to end,” LCA coach Byron Starks said.