The first two games of the inaugural Madison Prep Academy Classic couldn’t have been more polar opposite.
Port Allen had to rally down the stretch in the opening game to remain undefeated, clipping Tara 63-58, while host Madison Prep overwhelmed Amite 96-41 in Wednesday’s finale.
“We just gutted it out,” Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard said. “We gave up a lot of shots, and for the most part our defense wasn’t great, but we turned it up when we had to. We made the shots when we had to and pulled out the victory. That’s the sign of a true winner.”
Port Allen (12-0) advances to face Northside at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with Madison Prep taking on New Iberia at 8:30 p.m.
Lafayette High opens play at 4 p.m. against Hamilton Christian with McKinley meeting Lafayette Christian at 7 p.m.
“I tell our guys it’s not who you play but how you play,” MPA coach Jeff Jones said. “We were just trying to play hard and play a brand of basketball that translates over.”
PORT ALLEN 63, TARA 58: The Pelicans faced their largest deficit, trailing 53-48 with 3:05 to play, when a 3-pointer from guard Nigel Lane triggered a 14-3 spurt.
Allen later made a free throw and Northwestern State signee Ishmael Lane, who led all scorers with 26, gave his team a 55-54 lead with a three-point play that originated from an offensive rebound.
Tara (5-6) suffered consecutive turnovers — six of its 14 for the game — on two straight possessions in the final minute, which Port Allen turned into a 59-54 lead on a drive from Allen, who finished with 17 points.
The Trojans, who made 4 of 13 shots in the final quarter, never got any closer than three points the rest of the way.
Tara was led by Keidrick Stewart’s 16 points, which included five 3-pointers. Paul Johnson added 14.
“One thing about our kids is that they’re dependable,” Ricard said. “No matter what they’re going to play their best and give what they’ve got.”
MADISON PREP 96, AMITE 41: MPA played 19 players with 15 getting into the scoring column.
It didn’t take the Chargers (9-1) long to reach into their bench, with Jones playing 11 players during a 22-7 opening blitz in the first quarter.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to instill in these guys is a sense of team and a sense of togetherness,” Jones said. “We all want those guys to be happy for each other, to value their time out on the floor.”
MPA extended that lead to 47-21 at halftime with Rhode Island signee Christian Thompson scoring 11 of his team-high 13 points and Brandon Sampson adding 10 of his 12 points.
The Chargers shot 59 percent in the first half and forced the Warriors (5-6) into 13 of their 22 turnovers.
MPA scored the first 15 points of the third quarter for a 62-21 advantage on Sampson’s fastbreak layup before the Chargers opened as much as a 50-point lead (89-39) on a layup from Malcolm Roach with 3:09 remaining.
James Harvey’s 21 points topped Amite’s scoring.
“There are some tough teams we’re going to have to deal with in this tournament,” Jones said. “I was proud of their effort. Everyone played hard and some of the young kids that got a chance to play did well.”