DENHAM SPRINGS — Denham Springs High School overcame a sluggish first half Monday night as it rallied for a 65-60 win over Dutchtown in first round action at the Grady Hornsby Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets (1-0) trailed 43-38 entering the fourth quarter, but made nine of 11 shots from the floor as they took a 58-50 lead with three minutes to play. They sealed the win at the free-throw line, making seven of 12 down the stretch.
“In the first half, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. A lot of that is youth,” said Kevin Caballero, who was coaching his first game for Denham Springs. “We’ve got four sophomores and a senior. It was just jitters, but I was proud of the second-half effort by all the guys.”
Lutcher opened the tournament with an 86-62 win over Hammond. Mandeville defeated St. Michael 49-39, and University High raced past Terrebonne 88-53.
Lutcher and Mandeville will square off in one semifinal, while University and Denham Springs match up in the second. The winners will meet Wednesday evening for the championship.
Against Dutchtown, Denham Springs shot 59 percent from the field, but had 11 first-half turnovers. The turnovers helped Dutchtown, which shot 38 percent, stay within 27-26 of Denham Springs at the half.
Dutchtown surged ahead in the third quarter, but struggled to finish out the game.
Tori Odom, who led Denham Springs with 14 points, got things going in the fourth with a 3-pointer from the left corner. Chad Taylor scored a pair of inside baskets helping the Jackets tie it 45-45.
Odom then made a steal and drove to the basket for the go-ahead score. Denham Springs never trailed again.
Dutchtown (0-1) got as close as 49-48 on Tim-Michael Hasten’s three-point play, but Odom answered right back. His 3-pointer from the left wing pushed the lead back to four.
Taylor added an assist and a follow shot helping Denham Springs take its largest lead at 58-50 with three minutes left. The Jackets made only one of four free throws as Dutchtown crept within 59-55 on Neill Caldwell’s 3-pointer.
The Jackets’ righted themselves and made their next six free throws to salt the game away.
“Everybody’s enamored with the 3-point shot,” Caballero said. “But if you can make free throws and defensive rebound down the stretch I think you’ll win more games than you lose.”
Bryce Coleman added 13 points for Denham Springs while Taylor, Mitch Wilkerson and Ray Whitley each had eight.
Dutchtown got five 3-pointers and a game-high 19 from Caldwell. Hasten was the only other Griffin in double figures with 15.
U-High (2-0) held a 41-23 halftime lead over Terrebonne, and put on a shooting display in the third quarter.
The Cubs made all 12 of their shots from the floor, including three 3-pointers. They were also 10 of 10 at the free throw line as they scored 37 points in the quarter.
“From the beginning of the game I thought we were ready to play, but that third quarter we were firing on all cylinders,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said. “It was nice to see that so early in the year.”
Jalen Johnson topped the Cubs with 19 points, and was followed by Wayde Sims (17) and Marshall Graves (12). Terrebonne’s Davaughn Gauno led the Tigers with 20 points.