A chess match broke out between the Salmen Spartans and the Cecilia Bulldogs on Feb. 23 in a Class 4A boys basketball first round playoff in Slidell.
In the end, the No. 12 Spartans got the checkmate with a 48-43 win over a very determined Bulldog team.
Much of he first half featured Cecilia players holding the ball at mid-court; waiting for the Spartans to come to them. The Salmen coaching staff was having none of it as they held their defense back in the paint.
Bulldog point guard Kaleb Carter literally held the ball for roughly 10 minutes before starting one play. The lack of offense led to Cecilia having a 14-9 lead at the end of the first half.
Carey Holmes kept the Spartans in it with seven points in the half, while Carter stung the Spartans with eight points before halftime.
“If you would have told us that we would hold them to only 14 points in the first half after what we have learned about them in the last few days, we wouldn’t have believed it,” Salmen coach Jay Carlin said. “Our kids did a great job on the defensive end but we weren’t very efficient on the offensive end.”
The Spartans also made it hard on themselves by making only 11 of 22 free throws (50 percent) in the game.
“Missing free throws has been the story of (our) year,” Carlin said.
Cecilia went cold to open the second half and Salmen (24-9) made them pay. The Spartans outscored the Bulldogs 19-9 in the third quarter to take a 28-23 edge into the fourth. Salmen benefited from some clutch shots and timely rebounding down the stretch to pull out the win.
Holmes led Salmen with 18 points and his rebound at the end of the game dashed any hopes of a Cecilia comeback.
“I was hoping to get underneath to get the rebound in case he (Rashawn Gallaspy) missed the free throws,” Holmes said. “His second shot took a high bounce off the rim and it gave me time to work my way under to pull it down.”
Gallaspy had a 11 points while Keith Sandrock followed with 12 points and two blocks. Jaden Williams scored four points for Salmen and was instrumental with his ball handling skills.
Jevon Berry led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Carter added 13 and Josh Fontenette had 12.
Cecilia shot only 15 of 54 (28 percent) from the field, while Salmen hit at a 43-percent clip (16 of 37).
Salmen advanced to the regional round with the win and was scheduled to play No. 5 Carencro in the regionals. Cecilia ended the season 14-16.