Roydell Brown’s Friday night didn’t get off to quite the start he was hoping.
Zero points at halftime isn’t what the 6-foot-4 Helen Cox junior had in mind against rival West Jefferson.
But boy did he finish strong.
Brown’s dunk on an assist from Marlain Veal with 3.6 seconds left was the game-winner, putting the exclamation point on Cox’s thrilling 63-61 come-from-behind victory over visiting West Jefferson.
“That’s the second game in a row I didn’t score in the first half,” Brown said. “Coach told me I had to pick it up.”
Brown did just that, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“He’s very versatile and athletic,” Cox coach Tyron Mouzon said. “He is very quick on his feet and gives people a difficult matchup.”
Brown scored his team’s final six points, including a thunderous alley-oop with a minute left that put the Cougars ahead 59-58.
He then scored on a layup that put Cox ahead 61-58, but West Jefferson’s Trevanta Robertson buried a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to tie it at 61.
But then Brown delivered the clincher after Veal penetrated and dished out to him for the game-winner.
“They collapsed on Marlain, and he saw me,” Brown said. “I thought he was going to throw me an alley-oop at first.”
Cox, ranked No. 3 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10, improved to 19-4 overall, but more importantly 3-0 in District 8-5A.
For most of the game, it looked as if West Jeff (12-13, 2-1) was going to be the team leaving with an unblemished district record.
The Buccaneers went on an 11-0 run in the second quarter to turn a 24-23 deficit to a 32-24 lead. Robertson scored seven of his 10 first-half points in the quarter. He finished with a team-high 19 for the Bucs after his desperation shot at the buzzer didn’t fall.
West Jeff led 32-27 at halftime and extended the lead even more in the third quarter.
A steal and layup by Santana Jacobs pushed the lead to 38-28, and Robertson’s layup made it 40-28.
But Cox closed the quarter outscoring the visitors 10-5, then opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run to climb back in it.
Veal, who like Brown had been quiet most of the night, buried a 3-pointer with 6:04 left that gave Cox a 49-47 lead.
“I don’t know why we keep having such slow starts,” said Mouzon, whose team is No. 2 in the LHSAA’s Class 5A power rankings. “It’s a dogfight in this district with four or five quality teams. Every night you have to bring it…We can’t keep living dangerously. But when you are ranked as high as we are, you are going to get every team’s best.”
Ray Anderson scored 13 points and Casey Ransaw has 10 for West Jeff.
“We just had too many breakdowns on the offensive end, too many turnovers,” West Jeff coach Brian Simmons said. “Tip your hat to Helen Cox. They finished, and we didn’t.”
Tyler Jackson led Cox with 21 points, including 13 in the first half.
“Tyler brings a lot of energy on the offensive end,” Mouzon said.
“That kept us in striking distance early on.”