LAKE CHARLES — They call Keytaon Thompson the silent assassin.
Anyone wondering why he earned that nickname needed to just see his stoic demeanor Saturday night shortly after delivering what, years from now, will surely go down as one of the most talked-about baskets in Landry-Walker history.
Thompson’s put-back basket of a Lamar Peters miss right before time expired lifted Landry-Walker to a thrilling 37-35 victory over Salmen in the Class 4A state championship game in Burton Coliseum.
“I saw Lamar shoot it, and I just wanted to follow him up just in case it came out,” Thompson said. It did.
But Thompson delivered, setting off a wild celebration and giving Landry-Walker its second consecutive title in the school’s second year since the Landry and O. Perry Walker merger.
“That’s the way he played this whole tournament,” coach Brian Gibson said. “He set the tone. You will never know by looking at him. We are used to him looking (calm) that way. What you see is what you get.”
Thompson’s shot capped a frenetic final minute in a game when Landry-Walker (26-9) struggled most of the night.
The game-winner came just moments after they forced a five-second call on Salmen with 3.9 seconds left.
Peters took the inbound pass, dribbled upcourt and launched a shot from right inside halfcourt before Thompson cleaned it up.
“We refused to be denied tonight,” Gibson said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. We left out at the beginning of the game and said even if we don’t play well on offense, we can always play well on defense. Salmen did everything they needed to do. I thought we were the better defensive team.”
Salmen (29-6) did the almost unthinkable in the first half, holding Landry-Walker to just 11 points. Peters, the Charging Buccaneers’ sharp-shooting junior guard, went 0-for-6 in the first half (0-for-5 on 3-pointers).
“I came out struggling and I was having a rough start, so I needed them to help me,” Peters said.
The Spartans led 18-11 at halftime, but Landry-Walker’s offense finally got going in the second half.
Landry-Walker sophomore guard Kahlil Williams started the second half just like he ended the first: by knocking down a 3-pointer. It jump-started a 7-0 run for the Charging Bucs.
Thompson, also the quarterback on the football team, tied it at 18 with a pair of free throws with 6:01 left in the quarter. But Salmen’s Corey Vinson scored six of his team’s next eight points to give the Spartans a 26-21 lead headed into the fourth.
Peters, scoreless through three quarters, got his first basket on a deep 3-pointer to start the final quarter. It seemed to get the Charging Buccaneers going.
Landry-Walker took its first lead with 6:55 left when Williams came up with a steal and layup to make it 29-28.
Salmen retook the lead at 34-31 with 3:55 left on a pair of free throws by Cameron Vickers. All nine of the Spartans’ points came from the line in the fourth quarter.
Williams later drained a made 3-pointer with 1:42 left that tied it at 35. The game remained tied the rest of the way.
With 7.7 seconds left, Salmen called a timeout, but Thompson forced a jump ball and Salmen was called for a 5-second violation that eventually led to the game-winner.
“The basketball gods weren’t looking down on us the last 10 seconds of the game,” Salmen coach Jay Carlin said.
Vinson led Salmen with 12 points.
Williams scored 12 to lead Landry-Walker, the first 4A team to repeat since Cohen went back-to-back in 1996 and 1997.
Thompson finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, none bigger than the last one.
“Our kids have been resilient all year,” Gibson said. “They have fought through so much adversity all year. It was two teams that deserved to win. At the end of the day, we made enough plays to win it.”
Landry-Walker makes the leap to 5A next season.
“The 4A people don’t have to worry about us anymore,” he said.