DENHAM SPRINGS — Denham Springs sprinted to a seven-point lead late in the first quarter only to spend the last three quarters playing catch-up.
The Yellow Jackets waited until the game’s final three minutes to unleash one final kick to the finish line.
Guard Altoris Odom nearly single-handedly erased Catholic High’s nine-point lead with 4:31 remaining, igniting an 11-0 run to lead Denham Springs to a 42-40 victory Tuesday at Grady Hornsby Gymnasium.
Odom scored 10 of his game-high 14 points in the second half with Tuwain Starks adding 12.
Michael Francioni’s 13 points topped Catholic with Toliver Freeman contributing 10.
“We average 72 points a game and usually have 35 at half,” Denham Springs coach Wynn Wingate said. “You’re playing a good team; you’re not supposed to run up the score and beat them. It was two good teams going at it tonight, and we were lucky enough to get the last rebound.”
When Freeman passed to Patrick Fields for a layup, it capped an 11-2 surge that gave Catholic (9-3) a 40-31 lead with 4:31 showing.
The Bears didn’t score again, missing their final three shots, came up empty on the front end of a pair of one-and-ones and committed three turnovers.
“We knew they score the ball extremely well, and they play pretty fast offensively,” Catholic coach Mark Cascio said. “Nine (-point lead) against that team wasn’t the nail in the coffin. We were rebounding and defending well. We had some great looks offensively that just didn’t fall. If we could have just gotten one to fall, it stops the bleeding for us a little bit.”
Denham Springs (13-4)chipped four points off Catholic’s lead, forcing turnovers on consecutive trips with Odom making four straight free throws — his team’s first points in more than three minutes.
Catholic, which shot 27 percent in the second half, missed a shot on its next trip and Starks saved a long outlet pass from going out of bounds. Starks’ flip over his head went right to Odom whose layup with 2:09 left provided the Jackets with their first field goal of the quarter.
Before that the Jackets had made 3 of their last 15 attempts and shot 31 percent.
Odom brought DSHS to within 40-39 with a move to the baseline with 40 seconds to go after Fields missed the front end of a one-and-one.
After a turnover. Denham Springs ran a play for guard Brandon Hymel who hadn’t scored to that point. Thanks to a screen from Torrez Kinchen, Hymel got loose for a driving layup that turned into a three-point play with 19.6 seconds left.
That gave Denham Springs a 42-40 lead — its first since the end of the first quarter — before Freeman missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1.6 seconds to go, and Odoms rebounded to secure the win.
“We mixed it up on defense,” Wingate said. “Catholic uncharacteristically turned it over a few times. That’s basketball and it could have happened to us. We lost a close one to them last year. It was a good Catholic-Denham battle.”