ROSEDALE — Cameron Garner understands his role. And the 5-foot-9 guard played it to near perfection, scoring 14 points, including four free throws in the final minute to help Plaquemine notch a 47-38 victory over Port Allen on Friday night.
The victory in the nondistrict game played at the North Iberville gym avenged an early-season loss to the Pelicans.
In addition to helping the Green Devils (14-2) make eight free throws in the final 59.2 seconds to pull away, Garner helped key a defense that held PAHS point guard Nigel Allen scoreless.
“That’s my role … to defend one of the best players for the other team and knock down free throws,” Garner said. “This was big for us, especially since we’ll be starting district soon. I thought out defense was the key.”
Garner finished with a team-high 14 points for the Green Devils, who got 12 points and eight rebounds from D.J. Marshall. C.J. Young also scored 12 for 4A PHS.
Ishmael Lane led Port Allen (12-3) with game-high 18 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots. Jordan Morgan added 10 for the 3A Pelicans, who controlled the game early. It was the third straight loss for the Pelicans.
A 3-pointer by Morgan gave PAHS a 9-2 lead with 3:20 left in the first quarter. Garner’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer cut Port Allen’s lead to 10-6.
The 6-8 Lane had eight points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots in the first half. Just as significant was Plaquemine’s ball-hawking defense held Allen, who was saddled with foul trouble, scoreless.
Allen came into the game with a 16.0 scoring average. Seven second-quarter turnovers also hindered the Pelicans.
Port Allen held onto the lead until Jamie Lawless’ 3-pointer pushed Plaquemine in front 14-12. Another 3-pointer — this one by Garner with 1:43 remaining in the half — helped the Green Devils complete a 13-5 second-quarter surge.
“One thing we do a good job of is we play hard,” Plaquemine coach Donald Ray Johnson said. “We had a lead, and the same thing happened in the White Castle game. Port Allen made a run and took the lead from us. This time we were calm.”
Plaquemine led 19-15 at halftime. Two free throws by Young gave the Green Devils a 40-30 lead with 3:43 left in the third quarter. Led by Lane, who contributed a dunk and a post-up move, Port Allen closed the quarter with a 10-0 run that tied the game.
A free throw by Lane gave Port Allen a brief lead in the fourth quarter, but the 6-5 Marshall made a jumper from just inside the 3-point line 30 seconds later to give Plaquemine a slim lead. The Green Devils never trailed again. PAHS did cut it to 40-38 on two free throws by Damion Garner with 44.4 seconds left.
Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard drew a technical foul with 28.9 seconds left, and Darwin James made three free throws that gave Plaquemine the separation it needed. Afterwards, Ricard credited Plaquemine for its solid play and noted where his team needs to improve.
“Our defense is not where it was before,” Ricard said. “We’ve got to pick it up on defense. Defense wins games.”