Istrouma High came into its Class 4A bidistrict playoff game with a simple approach: shoot early and often.
Though the shooting percentages were not always pretty, the philosophy served the 11th-seeded Indians well in a 71-59 win over No. 22 Holy Cross Tuesday night at Istrouma.
“I want all of my guys to be confident,” Istrouma coach Aaron Pearson said. “We did miss some shots, but we made some big ones too. We wanted to come out and take control and that was huge.”
With the victory, Istrouma (23-6) advances to play No. 6 Washington-Marion at 7 p.m. Friday in Lake Charles.
Devin Bethely lead a quartet of double-figure scorers for the Indians with 18, including three 3-pointers. Tevin Walker added 16 and also had three 3-pointers. Derrick Thomas (15) and Marquise Kaigler (11) were the other top scorers for an Istrouma team that never trailed.
That balance helped offset a game-high 34 points by Holy Cross’ 6-foot-2 junior Greg White-Pittman, a Tulane commitment. Jordan Bookter added 12 for the Tigers (16-13).
“In some ways, I think we hurt ourselves as much as they hurt us,” Holy Cross coach Juan Lumas said. “By our count, we missed 14 layups in the game. But you have to give Istrouma credit. They came out and put pressure on and did what they needed to go get the lead.
“It was tough because nobody wanted to go home. It got a little chippy. And while I’m not proud of some of the behavior, I can’t fault the effort.”
Two Holy Cross players, Jaret Johnson and T.J. Cooks were assessed technical fouls in the fourth quarter. Though Istrouma built a 20-point lead, Holy Cross chipped away and cut the margin to 10 points. Istrouma made 20 of 37 free throws, missing seven in a row at one point late in the game as the Tigers rallied.
Carvis Kaigler and Bethely helped push Istrouma out to a 10-0 lead. Kaigler made two short-range shots in the lane. Bethely sank two long 3-pointers from different points on the floor. Bethely’s second 3-pointer put the Indians ahead 10-0 with 4:07 left in the quarter. Holy Cross didn’t score until White-Pittman drove for a layup with 3:13 remaining.
The Tigers closed the quarter by scoring seven of the final 11 points — all by White-Pittman.
Still, Istrouma led 14-7 to start the second quarter. The teams traded misses throughout a fast-paced second quarter, combining to make just 7 of 27 from the floor in the period. But the Indianas shot often and made enough to extend their lead to 10 points.
Tevin Walker made two long 3-pointers for Istrouma in the second quarter. Holy Cross got no closer than seven points as the Indians claimed a 27-17 halftime lead.
Istrouma’s balance theme was evident again in the third quarter. Thomas, Bethely, Marquise Kaigler and DeCorey London all contributed as the Indians extended their lead.
London’s 3-pointer at the 2:39 mark made it 43-29. The quarter ended with Walker sinking another 3-pointer, this one from the left side, to make it 51-31.
Three baskets by White-Pittman and a 3-pointer by Bookter helped Holy Cross cut into the Indians’ lead in the final quarter. Three free throws by Bookter made it 67-57, but by that time, there were just 40.7 seconds left.
Thomas helped ice the Istrouma win by making four free throws in the final 29.8 seconds.
“We’ll be back at again … in the gym tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.,” Istrouma’s Pearson said.