Port Allen High School used a 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to separate itself from University High, and the Pelicans went on to a 58-50 win Tuesday night at the Cubs gym.
The score was tied 40-40 with five minutes left when Nicholas Parker scored two of his game-high 33 points to put Port Allen on top for good. A pair of defensive gems helped the Pelicans extend the lead.
Darian Claiborne’s steal and driving basket made it 44-40, and Jarius Turner added a steal of his own seconds later. Turner was fouled as he scored a layup, and made the free throw for a seven-point cushion.
“We dug in and played defense,” said Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard, whose team improved to 5-3. “We had to take control of what we could do: which was play defense and get some stops no matter what happened. We couldn’t be denied.”
University (2-4) got as close as five points twice in the closing minute, the last time on Chris Moore’s short bank shot that cut the deficit to 55-50.
Parker, a sophomore guard who came into the game averaging 26 points per outing, made three-of-four free throws to close the win for Port Allen.
“(Parker) is a special player,” University coach Joe Spencer said. “He was hard to contain in the fourth quarter.”
Henry Shortess led the Cubs with 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Tyler Mynott added eight points, and Wade Sims had seven.
Port Allen led 24-21 at halftime, but neither team shot well from the field. The Pelicans made 11-of-30 from the floor, but still outdid the Cubs who were just 6-for-26.
The bad first-half shooting numbers for University weren’t because of poor shot selection as Sims, Mynott and Tim Williams all found shots at close range.
“I was happy with the shots we got in the first half,” Spencer said. “Those shots usually fall, but we’ve got some guys still working their way back (after football season).”
Port Allen took a 26-21 lead early in the third quarter, but University fought back to forge a tie at 34-34. Shortess’ 3-pointer from the left wing helped the Cubs get close, and he later scored the tying basket off an assist from Micah Green.
Parker’s driving score gave the Pelicans a 36-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“I think he’s one of the best point guards in the metro area for his age group and for whoever we play,” Ricard said of Parker, who has played varsity basketball since seventh grade.
Parker, who scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, had two baskets to put the Pelicans up 40-38 with six minutes left.
The two teams then split four turnovers before Shortess was fouled rebounding his own miss. Shortess’ free throws tied the game at 40, but Parker again drove to the basket for a 42-40 Port Allen lead. From there, the Pelicans defense stepped up their game to help close the win.