BRUSLY — There were enough momentum shifts to turn an anxious fan’s nervous system inside out.
Ultimately, the inside play of Ishmael Lane made the difference as Port Allen held on to claim a 75-67 victory over Brusly on Tuesday night in District 7-3A boys basketball action at BHS.
Lane pulled down seven rebounds and blocked two shots in the final period to help keep the Pelicans (15-3, 3-0) unbeaten in league play prior to Friday’s showdown with defending state champion University High.
“I just felt like I had to step up and play to my potential to keep my team in the lead,” Lane said. “You don’t have to get up to play a game with Brusly. It’s a rivalry and we know anything can happen.”
Lane, a 6-foot-8 Northwestern State signee, finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocked shots for PAHS. Jordan Morgan added 18, including five 3-pointers for the winners, while Telson Allen had 10 points.
Those efforts did not overshadow the outside effort of Brusly’s Michael Bryant. The 6-3 Bryant scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half. He finished with six second-half 3-pointers, five of which came in the third quarter.
Jasper Queen added 14 points and Jason Holiday 11 for the Panthers (13-6, 1-2).
“Brusly and Port Allen is a rivalry and you can throw the records out,” Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard said. “It’s the West Baton Rouge Parish championship and everybody comes ready to play. They (Brusly) fought to the end.”
Free throws were pet peeve for Ricard. After making 14 of 16 first-half free throws the Pelican made just 9 of 20 from the charity stripe in the fourth-quarter, missing chances to put the game away.
“Ishmael Lane is a tough player to guard,” Brusly coach Harold Boudreaux said. “You always have a chance when you have a player who can shoot the ball like Michael Bryant. We never gave up. We fell behind by too much early and couldn’t quite catch them.”
The game got off to a slow start. Port Allen didn’t crack double figures until Lane scored inside with 1:51 left in the first quarter. The Pelicans led 15-6 after one quarter and 37-25 at halftime.
Fouls and free throws were notable. So was poor shooting by Brusly. The two teams combined to shoot 29 first-half free throws. Brusly made just 2 of 12 shots from the field in the first quarter and finished 5 of 17 in the second period.
Bryant came out of the locker room on fire and ignited a Brusly rally with four 3-pointers during the first half of the third quarter.
Bryant’s 3-point laser from the right side cut the Port Allen lead to four at 43-39 with 4:48 left in the period.
But the Pelicans scored 16 of the final 23 points in the quarter and led 59-46 when the final quarter began. The Panthers got with seven points twice and actually cut the PAHS lead to six, at 71-65, with 1:28 left on two free throws by Queen.
Much like the first half, BHS struggled shooting from the field, making 5 of 18 fourth-quarter shots with Port Allen’s Lane and others altering shots inside once the Pelicans’ limited Bryant’s outside chances.
Now the Pelicans can focus on hosting U-High Friday.
“I’m expecting a wild environment,” Ricard said. “I’ve tried to keep us zeroed in on one game at a time so we wouldn’t look ahead. Now it’s here.”