LAKE CHARLES — Washington-Marion senior guard L’Marcus Walker calls his shot a “dream come true.”
For the Edna Karr Cougars, it was their worst nightmare.
Walker drove to the basket and scored as time expired to hand Edna Karr a heartbreaking 58-56 loss in a Class 4A semifinals at the Allstate Sugar Bowl LHSAA Boys Top 28 Tournament.
“It’s tough,” Karr senior guard Tyree Thompson said. “Coach told us at halftime that there was going to be a point when we would have to face adversity. We faced adversity. But we didn’t capitalize. We came up short. It hurts a lot.”
No. 3 seed Karr finishes 24-13 and fell two wins shy of winning its fourth state championship and first since 2007
No. 2 Washington-Marion (22-8) advances to Saturday’s 8 p.m. championship game at Burton Coliseum to play Bossier, which upset top-seeded St. Thomas More 49-48 in Thursday’s other semifinal.
The game was tied at 56-56 after two clutch free throws by Karr’s Vincent Phillips with 23 second left.
But Washington-Marion had the last possession. Walker, who finished with a team-high 18 points, kept the ball in his hands the rest of the way, dribbling around the top of the key as he milked the clock. The Washington-Marion crowd got antsy with about seven seconds left as Walker continued to dribble.
“I was waiting for five seconds to get on the clock,” Walker said.
That’s when he darted toward the basket and floated in a basket as the clock struck zero on the scoreboard and the Cougars’ season.
“I was too crunk,” Walker said. “It felt like a dream come true. It’s great. I don’t want a team from another city to come to our city and beat us in our hometown.”
Walker finished with a team-high 18 points for the Indians.
“He got a good move and got around our defender,” Karr coach Taurus Howard said. “You have to give him credit. I think it was decent defense. We could have put a little more ball pressure on the ball, but he made a good shot.”
The Cougars looked to be in control, leading 48-39 with 5:55 left. But the Indians scored eight straight points to set up a back-and-forth finish.
“You have to give Washington-Marion credit,” said Howard, in his third season. “They never stopped fighting. We got up and were in control of the game, and we didn’t do a good job of finishing the game. We talked about that all season. We got to finish, we got to finish, we got to finish.
“We had some crucial turnovers in the last two or three minutes that came back to hurt us. But again, you have to give Washington-Marion credit. They never stopped fighting. They deserved to win.”
After Washington-Marion cut into Karr’s lead, the Cougars seemed to have regained some momentum with 2:11 left when Phillips scored on a layup. It gave Karr a 52-49 lead. But Washington-Marion’s high-flying forward answered with two back-to-back clutch baskets. The first came on a putback and the second came on a 3-pointer that put the Indians ahead 54-52.
“That 3 was great,” Indians coach Albert Hartwell said. “At that time, we needed that 3 to get us over the hump. He didn’t give us one of those famous dunks to get us fired up, but he hit that 3 to get us motivated to go on and get the win.”
Christian Edwards finished with nine points and Da’Vantre Vitor had 14.
Phillips led Karr with 21 points and nine rebounds, carrying the bulk of the load in the first half. He was the only Karr scorer in double figures. Daijean Dixon and Diamante Woolridge finished with eight points each.
It was the last game for seniors Phillips, Thompson, Woolridge and Devin Edinburgh.
“My four seniors are the definitions of student-athletes,” Howard said. “We couldn’t be more proud of these four seniors. I just feel bad for them. I really think and believe in my heart that they shouldn’t have left Karr without a state championship.”