Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard didn’t know whether to credit the brighter lights and the bigger stage afforded by playing at Baton Rouge Community College.
Regardless, though, the Pelicans took advantage of Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic platform to prove they could be a serious contender for the Class 3A state championship.
Port Allen’s sizzling start manifested itself into a double-digit lead for the majority of the game before having to hold off one final charge from Karr for a 75-70 victory.
“Anytime you can beat a team like Edna Karr, the No. 1 team (in power ratings) in Class 4A, it lets you know that 3A from top to bottom is pretty good, and we should be one of those elite teams as well across the state,” Ricard said.
It was a reversal of fortunes for McKinley, which overcame an early deficit, only to falter down the stretch in a 61-54 decision to Metairie Park Country Day.
“They played a very consistent game,” McKinley coach Marvin Dotson said. “They made the shots they’re supposed to make and then they got to the free-throw line.”
PORT ALLEN 75, KARR 70: Port Allen (18-4) shot 68 percent in the first half to build a 48-41 halftime lead.
The Pelicans had four players score in double figures with 6-foot-8 Northwestern State signee Ishmael Lane leading the way with 21 points.
Guards Nigel Allen and Jordan Morgan scored 17 each, and Telson Allen added 10.
Port Allen raced out to a 34-22 lead at the 6-minute mark of the second quarter and wound up with a seven-point lead at halftime.
“We’ve never scored 48 points in a half,” said Ricard, whose team won for the sixth time in its last seven games. “After halftime I looked at the score and asked the guys is that a halftime score? Usually we’re between 25 and 32.”
Karr (17-7) turned up its defensive pressure in second half, limiting Port Allen to 27 points and forcing the Pelicans into 11 of their 22 turnovers.
Karr closed to within 67-66 with 2:39 remaining only to have the Port Allen respond with six straight points to extend its lead to 73-66 with 53 seconds left.
COUNTRY DAY 61, MCKINLEY 55: McKinley (14-11) went on a 9-2 run midway through the second quarter for its biggest lead (23-18) on back-to-back baskets from Tyrese Radford.
There was a tie and a pair of lead changes over the final three minutes of the quarter when Country Day (14-4) closed out a 10-2 surge for a 28-25 halftime lead.
The fourth 3-pointer from guard Kyle Woods at the 2:39 mark of the third quarter pulled McKinley even at 34, but Country Day, the defending Class 1A state champion, took a 38-37 lead into the final quarter and led by as many as nine points (48-39) with 4:42 left.
Woods and Radford led the Panthers with 14 points apiece, while Russell Daniels added 12.
“We missed some shots we should have made, and we missed some free throws,” Dotson said. “We needed to be more mentally focused toward the end on the task at hand.”
BRUSLY 53, TARA 49: Brusly (17-6) raced out to a 33-9 halftime lead only to see Tara (12-14) rally with a 25-point third quarter. The Trojans outscored the Panthers 17-2 during one stretch to climb back into the game.
Tara’s Keidrick Stewart tied the game at 49 by making two free throws with 40.2 seconds left. Two free throws by Michael Bryant with 17.4 seconds left gave Brusly the lead for good.
After a Tara miss, Jason Holiday added two more free throws. Holiday led the Panthers with 16 points. Bryant and Darien Jones each had 11. Youry White scored a game-high 18 to lead Tara.
AMITE 69, BEAU CHENE 62: James Harvey scored a game-high 24 points to power Amite in the first game. The Warriors built a lead by outscoring Beau Chene 25-7 in the second quarter.
Devonta Smith added 13 for the winners. Julius Tibbs led Beau Chene with 17 points, while Datravan Guilbeau added 16.
ELLENDER 71, CARROLL 68: The Patriots outscored Monroe-based Carroll by six points in the final quarter.
Carroll got within two points during the final two minutes. A layup by Leland Alexander upped the Ellender lead to four, at 68-64. EHS (18-7) made three free throws in the final seconds to put the game out of reach.
Ellender made eight 3-pointers on the night. Curtis Anderson led the Patriots with 14 points. Jameion Green had a game-high 18 points for Carroll.