When a boys basketball game plays out like a four-act play, the winner saves its best for last.
Istrouma High School didn’t execute everything in its game plan to perfection. But the unbeaten Indians saved their best for the final 3:40 of the fourth-quarter, outscoring McKinley 13-4 to notch a 60-51 victory in a nondistrict game Tuesday night at Istrouma.
“I thought we got off to a really good start and then let up,” Istrouma coach Marvin Dotson said. “But I thought we did do a good job down the stretch. We regained our composure.”
Devin Bethely scored a game-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers to pace Istrouma (5-0). Bethely hit a 3-pointer during final stretch run.
Jamarcus Weatherspoon, who finished with 13 points, added a dunk. Jamarcus Gaines chipped in 10 for the Class 4A Indians.
Leonard Daniels led McKinley with 13 points. Darius Johnson (12) and Darryl Milburn (11) also scored in double figures for the 5A Panthers (2-2), who trailed by as much as 16 points in the first half.
“It all comes down execution,” McKinley coach T.J. Pugh said. “When we executed, we did OK. But there was times when we didn’t execute, especially at the end, and it made a difference.
“There were some good things. A lot of guys got to play. But (Wednesday) we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and break it down again.”
Marquise Kaigler added 12 rebounds for Istrouma, including seven in the fourth quarter.
Brenden Willis and Garrick Mayweather each had seven rebounds for McKinley.
A 3-pointer by Bethely helped Istrouma jump out to a 5-0 early lead. The Indians quickly built their lead to double digits. A baseline drive by Gaines with 15 seconds left sent Istrouma into the second quarter with a 21-9 lead.
A 3-pointer by Bethely and a layup by Kaigler pushed the Istrouma lead to 16 at 27-11 two minutes into the second quarter.
That’s when McKinley got going. The Panthers outscored 18-6 the rest of the way. A layup by Johnson right before the buzzer pulled McKinley within four at 33-29 at halftime.
Back-to-back rebounds and follow shots near the basket by Mayweather during the first 40 seconds of the third quarter tied the game at 33-33. Istrouma countered with a 7-0 run punctuated by another Weatherspoon dunk.
Istrouma led 40-33 midway through the quarter, but got outscored 7-2 after that. A jumper by Daniels got McKinley within two, at 42-40, going into the fourth quarter.
The game of catch continued in the fourth quarter. Istrouma opened up a six-point lead less than two minutes into the final period. Another McKinley run - this one 7-1 - allowed the Panthers to tie it at 47-47 on a layup by Johnson with 3:48 remaining.
Bethely, Weatherspoon, Gaines and Kaigler all scored during Istrouma’s winning surge.
“I’m impressed with the way Bethely quarterbacked us tonight,” Dotson said. “We’ve got some work to do to get better, too.”