PLAQUEMINE — Want to know the difference between a nail-biter and a blowout?
For Plaquemine High, it was eight minutes and 34 points. The Green Devils scored 28 straight points to run away with a 79-56 victory over No. 24 Westgate High in a first-round Class 4A boys basketball playoff game at PHS Friday night.
“Coach (Donald Ray) Johnson always talks about picking up the defensive intensity,” the Green Devils’ Keandre Randall said. “And that’s what we did. We picked it up on defense and came out with the win.”
The final score was not indicative of the game. Westgate held a 46-45 lead going into the fourth quarter, thanks to a 3-pointer by Eron Phillips at the buzzer. But the Green Devils (23-6) went on to outscore the Tigers (13-15) 34-10 during the final quarter — the most definitive surge in a game of momentum swings.
“We probably went about three and a half minutes without knocking a bucket down in the fourth quarter and that’s hard to overcome because they were able to get to the rim and make shots,” Westgate coach Oliver Winston said. “Fouls hurt us bad because they were in the double bonus before the end of the third quarter.
“When you’re not making shots and the other team is going to the free-throw line, it’s not a good combination. They (Plaquemine) did a better job than we did in the last quarter.”
With the win, Plaquemine advances to play No. 8 Northside in Lafayette. C.J. Young led the Green Devils with 17 points, while Randall added 15 and A.J. Riley had 12. Anachack Phomthirath led New Iberia-based Westgate with 13 points. Tyron Chevalier finished with 10.
“It’s like I said yesterday, defense is going to win us games,” PHS’ Johnson said. “We’re not just going to outscore teams but we are a good defensive team. We have confidence in our defense. That was the difference. We started getting the loose ball and stopped their offensive rebounds.”
Scoring surges also was the story of the first half. Plaquemine raced out to a 9-4 lead. But Randall’s jumper in the lane with 4:28 left ended the first-quarter scoring for the Green Devils.
That scoring drought opened the door for an 11-0 Westgate run. Baskets by Jacoby Colbert and Deondre Spencer sent the Tigers into the second quarter with a 15-9 lead.
Westgate held onto the lead until Plaquemine rolled off nine straight points. Randall scored again, this time for the right side to give the home team a 25-22 lead with 3:11 to go in the half.
The half ended with an 11-4 Westgate run. Dominic Francis’ driving floater in the lane with less than a second left gave Westgate a 33-29 halftime lead. Neither team gained a significant edge in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Anachack Phomthirath with 7:07 remaining gave the Tigers a 51-49 lead. That’s when the bottom literally fell out. The Tigers didn’t score again until the 3:33 mark. By that time Plaquemine led by 11. Six fourth-quarter turnovers didn’t help the WHS cause either.
Randall stole the ball and scored to give PHS its first lead at 53-51.
Things snowballed from there.