COVINGTON — McKinley High School would not go away, but in the end the Panthers just could not get over the hump Friday night.
Keion Brown scored 21 points and Kyle Woods had 14 but it wasn’t enough as McKinley exited in the first round of the Class 5A boys’ playoffs after a 71-65 loss to St. Paul’s of Covington.
McKinley had the lead early, going up 14-6 with 4:48 left in the first quarter, with Brown and Woods combining for nine of the 14 points.
But St. Paul’s battled back and took the lead 19-17 on a 3-pointer by Devonte Person as the first quarter ended.
McKinley tied the game twice early in the second quarter but SPS took the lead for good at 24-21 on a 3-pointer by Harrison Prieto with 6:10 left in the period.
St. Paul’s then raced out to a 37-26 lead with just 1:18 remaining in the half, but four straight by McKinley, including a thunderous dunk by Brown to end the half brought the Panthers to within 37-30.
St. Paul’s went up by as much as 12 in the third quarter, but once again McKinley stormed back, cutting the lead to 46-44 at the end of the period.
But the Wolves would not be denied, as they used good foul shooting and rebounding to take a 65-54 lead with 1:07 remaining.
McKinley then started fouling and shooting 3-pointers, getting as close as six points four times — including the final score – but were never able to get within striking distance for victory.
“We didn’t do as good of a job as we needed to do defensively,” McKinley coach Marvin Dotson said. “They outhustled us on loose balls and defensive plays.
“When you play a team that’s this good, and they outhustle you, we made it a tough night for ourselves.”
St. Paul’s coach Phil Williams said his team did a good job holding off a tough Panthers team.
“We knew going in they were going to score on turnovers and putbacks and we did a pretty good job of limiting their second chance opportunities,” Williams said.
Preito and Timothy Bedford led St. Paul’s with 21 points each.
St. Paul’s (23-7) moves on to play top-seeded Natchitoches Central in the second round on Tuesday while McKinley finishes 21-13 on the season.