Four Slidell players finished in double-digits as the Tigers defeated Chalmette 53-46 in the first round of the Lakeshore Thanksgiving Classic on Monday.
The season opener for Slidell (1-0), Marc Merriman led the Tigers with 12 points and Thaddeus Parker, John-Paul Fugate and Reuben Cousin all had 10 points apiece in the win.
“I thought our team was very focused on taking good shots the entire game,” Slidell coach Dale Chimento said. “Particularly when it mattered in the fourth quarter. We also rebounded the ball well. Chalmette is an extremely well-coached team, and we were very fortunate to hit some free throws at the end of the game when we needed to.”
The Owls were led by Jeremiah Flot, who finished with 12 points. Brent Bailey had 10, Carlton Campbell had nine and Glenshawn Amos added seven.
Falling behind early 7-0, Slidell used a 6-0 run at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take their first lead on a jumper by Fugate.
A back-and-forth game throughout, neither team held more than a three-point lead until the last five minutes of the game.
Trailing 40-30 with 5:26 remaining, Parker and Merriman ignited a 6-0 Slidell run to give the Tigers the lead at 45-40, a lead that they would not relinquish.
“To me, the biggest thing was we played good defense,” Merriman said. “That was the reason we went on the run like we did. It drove everything. We shifted to the zone defense and executed much better on offense. Late in the game, that was the difference.”
A basket by Flot with under three minutes to go in the game cut the lead to 47-43, but that was the closest Chalmette got. A basket by Fugate and four late free throws by Cousin and Fugate sealed the victory for the Tigers.
Slidell advances to take on district rival Northshore in the winners bracket Tuesday night at 6. Northshore defeated Loranger 63-60 in their first round game. Chalmette (1-4) falls into the losers bracket and will take on Loranger Tuesday at 3.
“With the power rankings set up how they are, we know every game is extremely important, so we want to win every game we are participating in,” Chimento said. “We need to be ready all season long. We have had to fight through some injuries and sicknesses early on this season, so we are trying to do the best we can.
“Add to that the fact we are an extremely young team,” he continued. “You look at our squad, and we only start one senior. Our young guys are starting to step up and understand what they are supposed to do. I am seeing a lot of improvement and early on. As a coaching staff, that is really all you can ask from a young squad. We are coming along. We just have to be patient.”