PORT ALLEN — Friday night’s District 7-3A showdown between University High and Port Allen was everything a basketball fan would have wanted for about five minutes. After that, University put on a clinic and sailed past the Pelicans.
John Jones made six 3-pointers to ignite the Cubs offense as UHS erased an early seven-point deficit on its way to a 68-53 win at PAHS.
Jones finished with 18 points as did teammate D.J. White. Wayde Sims added 16 for University (18-2, 4-0), the reigning Class 3A state champion.
For the game, U-High shot 56 percent from the field (24 of 43) including 10 of 15 from 3-point range. Port Allen (15-4, 3-1) made its final six shots from the field to finish at 47 percent (20 of 43).
Andre Williams topped the Pelicans with 15 points. Ishmael Lane found some success working inside against Maxwell Starwood but was a nonfactor as the game got out of hand. Lane was the only other Pelican in double figures with 13.
U-High coach Joe Spencer noted the importance of Jones’ outside shooting freeing up the inside game for the Cubs.
“The funny thing is John’s been kind of under the weather,” Spencer said. “He came back (Thursday). Tonight he just had one of those games shooting the ball well. What I loved was our guys were looking for him. They recognized the hot hand.”
Sims was the biggest benefactor after his tally for the game included four dunks. Skylar Mays found open lanes for driving, and had nine points.
Port Allen opened the game as if it were ready to challenge U-High. Jordan Morgan had an assist and a 3-pointer, and Lane scored twice over Starwood as Port Allen took a 9-2 lead midway through the first quarter.
The bottom fell out for Port Allen as U-High outscored the Pelicans 19-3 to take a 21-12 lead after one.
White and Jones each had two 3-pointers, but the clincher was Mays’ buzzer-beating 3 as Port Allen tried to work the ball for a final shot. Marshall Graves made a steal, and flipped the ball ahead to Mays, whose running 3-pointer beat the first quarter horn.
The Cubs scored the first 10 points of the second quarter, and built a 37-17 halftime lead. Jones made three 3-pointers in the quarter while Port Allen made just 2 of 8 from the field.
“The first three minutes of the game we led 9-2,” Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard said. “We did that by playing team basketball.
“When they went on a run it was (Port Allen’s) unforced turnovers, and not rotating out of a zone properly. We did what it takes to get a lead, and then we got away from it.”
U-High led by as many as 26 points in the second half. Port Allen didn’t get the lead under 20 until two minutes were left to play.
A game that started as a nail-biter turned into a rout after U-High’s outside shooting sparked a comeback.
“If we can get that kind of production out of guys off the bench, shooting the ball that well with our guys inside, its just tough to deal with,” Spencer said.