PORT ALLEN — Not even Madison Prep basketball coach Jeff Jones was certain how his team would respond to its early-season adversity.
The Chargers, who won the Class 1A state title last season, are playing without injured starters Josh Anderson and Yuruk Lazard and suffered consecutive losses in the Hamilton Christian Tournament over the weekend.
“I can’t remember the last time we lost two games in a row,” Jones said. “It’s been a couple of years.”
Madison Prep didn’t get much sympathy from host Port Allen, trailing the Pelicans well into the second quarter before shaking off the home team and pulling away for a 59-47 victory on Tuesday.
“We knew we would be tested, and we needed that going into the (Thursday’s) Northside tournament,” Jones said. “I was proud to come out of this environment with a win after the two losses.”
Leading scorer Jamel Robinson, who missed the majority of last season with an assortment of injuries, served as the catalyst for Madison Prep (4-2) with 18 points, while guard Jharon Whitfield had 11.
The Chargers erased a 14-11 first-quarter deficit with an 8-2 spurt over the first three minutes of the second quarter for a 19-16 lead at the 5:02 mark.
MPA got a three-point play from Kobe Julien and four straight points from Robinson, who turned a steal off the press into a lay-in and converted an offensive rebound into a pair of free throws.
“Jamel came out and played like a warrior for us,” Jones said. “He was the leader for us and really set the pace.”
Port Allen (4-3), which had won three straight games that included the championship in the Brusly tournament, trailed 23-20 at halftime despite shooting 30 percent from the field.
The Pelicans climbed to within a point on four occasions in the third quarter, the last at 30-29 on Nigel Allen’s drive, but was never able to wrestle away the lead.
Allen led Port Allen with 14 and Jordan Morgan added 12 for Port Allen, which shot 33 percent and committed 22 turnovers.
“We turned the ball over too much,” Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard said. “We never could get in a rhythm because we didn’t play as a team. In my opinion, if we play as a team we win the game.”
Whitfield twice tipped in missed shots and Robinson knocked down a free throw and came back into the front court for a steal and lay-in to make it 35-29 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
Marquis Browder’s 3-pointer with 6:33 to go ignited a 12-4 spurt that resulted in a 49-37 advantage on Josh Leblanc’s free throw.
MPA, who shot 50 percent in the second half, stretched its lead to as many as 14 points with Leblanc following his own miss for a 57-43 lead with 1:14 left.
“These guys win 24-25 games every year and go to at least the third round of the playoffs,” Jones said of Port Allen. “I was proud of the way they handled everything because Port Allen gave us everything they could.”