In the District 6-5A opener for both schools, preseason favorite St. Paul’s overcame a halftime deficit to beat Slidell on the road, 47-40.
The Wolves were led by the duo of Harrison Prieto and Timothy Bedford, each of whom scored 13 points. Christophe Robertson also had a solid game with 10 points.
Slidell (6-7, 0-1) was led by J.R. McAbee’s 10 points and nine points apiece from Marc Merriman and John Paul Fugate.
Opening the second-half on a 10-2 run, St. Paul’s (11-5, 1-0) got Prieto and Bedford involved quickly, opening the third quarter combing for a 10-point run. The Wolves’ lead grew to as big as 35-27 in the third on a pair of Stephen Hammond free throws with 1:24 left in the quarter.
Slidell got as close as 43-49 on a Reuben Cousin 3-pointer but failed to take the lead in the second half after falling behind.
“Coming out of the locker room at the half, there was a conscious effort by the team to try and get me the ball inside so I can pound it in there and at worst get to the free-throw line,” Prieto said. “We were able to execute the game plan much better in the second half. Pounding the ball inside in the second half also opened things up for us for our guards to make shots, and they were able to do that as well.”
Wolves coach Phil Williams said the inside threat in the second half was important.
“Of course it is always good to start off with a district win, particularly on the road,” he said. “I told my team in the locker room after the game that what we did in the second half is what we are suppose to do, and if we can do that, we are going to have the chance to win a lot of games this year.
“We wanted to jam the ball inside, and like Harrison said it also led to a lot of open looks for our jump shooters. Add to the mix, we shot 14-of-16 in the second half from the (free-throw) line. This was a tough game and a good district win for us.”
St. Paul’s broke out to a quick 5-0 lead. Slidell responded with an 8-2 run of its own and took the lead on a John Paul-Fugate 3-pointer with 1:28 to go in the opening quarter.
The Slidell lead grew as high as 18-13 on a McAbee basket with 1:52 left in the first half.
Prieto, the leading scorer for St. Paul’s who didn’t attempt a field goal in the first half, was held to two made free throws .