PLAQUEMINE — A week after exiting the championship game of the EBR Parish tournament with an injured elbow, Madison Prep Academy’s Brandon Sampson made a triumphant return to action.
Sampson came off the bench to score 12 of his 17 points in the first half, and Rhode Island signee Christian Thompson also scored 17, helping Madison Prep fend off a stern challenge from Plaquemine 60-55 before a packed PHS gymnasium on Monday.
“It wasn’t a big deal coming off the bench,” said Sampson, who sat out the game’s first three minutes. “I missed a few practices to ice it. I bent it and got the (range of) motion back and felt fine.”
Madison Prep (17-1) won for the 16th straight time but its margin of victory was the smallest since opening with a 56-46 victory another District 6-4A team, St. Michael the Archangel.
“We knew we had to play tough here,” MPA coach Jeff Jones said. “They gave us everything we could have asked for.”
There were four first-half ties until Josh Anderson gave MPA a 29-26 halftime lead with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
The Chargers, who shot 62 percent, opened the third quarter on an 8-2 surge with Thompson and Sampson each drilling threes and Sampson adding a pair of free throws for a 37-28 lead with 4:32 showing.
“We kind of broke down defensively and gave up open shots,” Plaquemine coach Donald Ray Johnson said. “They’re just good. We competed and they came out with the win. They’re a great team, but I was pleased with our effort.”
Plaquemine (14-3), whose nine-game win streak was snapped, remained within five points, including a 43-38 deficit on Charleston Spears’ three-point play to end the third, before MPA reopened a 47-38 advantage.
Yuruk Lazard dropped in a pair of free throws, and Thompson made a short jumper as MPA went on to open a 60-45 advantage with 46 seconds left when Thompson fed Josh Leblanc for a lay-in.
Plaquemine scored the game’s final 10 points, including 3-pointers from Darwin James and Cameron Garner, to close to within the final score.
DJ Marshall scored eight of his 12 points in the first half for the Green Devils, who shot 42 percent, while James had 11.
MPA closed out each of the first two quarters in dramatic fashion to hold the lead at halftime.
Thompson’s three-point play with 3.7 seconds to go tied the game at 16-all and Anderson capped the half with a trey with three-tenths of a second following a scramble for a loose ball.
“That builds the character of the team,” Sampson said of the tense game. “I think we handled it really good.”