PLAQUEMINE — It’s still too soon for Plaquemine High School to break out the cliché “defense wins championships.”
Defense was the key to the Green Devils’ 46-43 victory over St. Michael the Archangel on Friday night. That win puts the Plaquemine one step closer to a District 6-4A title.
“We wanted to pressure them because we know we have some perimeter quickness,” Plaquemine coach Donald Ray Johnson said. “It ended up working out in the end. That’s how we got some steals and the lead at the end.”
Plaquemine forced seven fourth-quarter turnovers and Kirkland Jones got a key block on a late 3-point try by the Warriors’ Jacob Evans.
The Warriors had a chance at the end. Nick Arcement made a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left to make it a 46-43 game. The St. Michael defense forced a five-second call. But Arcement’s well-defensed 3-ball at the buzzer was off the mark.
Evans scored a game-high 18 points and Arcement added 14. Jones, Cameron Garner and CJ Young each had eight points to pace Plaquemine (21-5, 5-0).
“It’s just like the last one we played against them … little mistakes,” St. Michael coach Drew Hart said. “They made mistakes, but we made mistakes late. We were able to recover from them, but we started to press the issue. It’s impossible to simulate (Plaquemine’s defensive pressure) at practice.”
St. Michael rode a big first-half surge to a 62-37 victory over the Green Devils in the girls game. Tyler Morrison helped the Warriors (21-9, 7-0) clinch their 6-4A title with 17 points. Sabree Wilson added 16 and Alex Wicker added 15. It was the ninth straight district title for the SMHS girls.
The boys game was a sharp contrast to the girls game. It was tied four times in the first quarter before Michael Miketinas hit a 3-pointer to give St. Michael a 16-15 lead.
Plaquemine turned the tables in the second quarter with a quick 4-0 run. The Green Devils led 27-22 after a 3-pointer from the baseline by Young with 2:34 left. PHS didn’t score again. A layup and free throw by Evans with seven seconds left made it 27-25 at halftime.
The teams traded the lead throughout the third period. DJ Marshall’s inside shot off the glass just before the buzzer sent Plaquemine into the fourth quarter with a 36-34 lead. A layup by Marshall off a turnover with 3:33 left gave the Green Devils the lead for good at 41-40.
In addition to forcing seven turnovers, PHS held St. Michael scoreless for 3:53 of the final 3:55.
“It was preparation … film study,” Jones said of his late blocked shot. “We just played hard all the time and we get something out of everybody.”
ST. MICHAEL 62, PLAQUEMINE 37: Asia Nelson scored a game-high 20 points for Plaquemine (16-14, 5-2).
“The girls have done a great job,” SMHS coach Tami McClure said. “Nondistrict play leads us to this. We have a great district, but I think the clientele we play in our nondistrict gets us ready for this.
“I think the first half we played an outstanding game. I told them in the second half they needed to take that momentum, and we came out sluggish. Plaquemine did a good job coming back.”
Plaquemine got off to a fast start and led 7-3 after two free throws by Kiffani Young with 5:02 left in the first quarter.
The bottom fell out for the Green Devils. St. Michael went on a 14-0 run. Two long 3-pointers by Wilson punctuated the surge.
PHS scored four of the final seven points in the first period and trailed 20-11. But 17 first-half turnovers continued to take their toll. SMHS went on a 13-1 run outscored the Green Devils 21-3 in the second quarter and led 41-14 at the half.
The Green Devils outscored SMHS in the third quarter but the surge was not nearly enough.