LAKE CHARLES — Marshall Jackson’s 33-year run as head coach came to an end Tuesday night.
So did his team’s Cinderella run.
But it didn’t end without one last valiant effort from Higgins, which put together a magical postseason run for their coach.
Higgins, the lowest seed (No. 20) in the Top 28 Tournament, put a scare in top-seed Natchitoches Central but crumbled late to fall 49-43 in the Class 5A semifinals at Burton Coliseum.
“We lost the final game, but I’m going out a winner,” said Jackson, who is stepping down after over three decades in Marrero.
Higgins led 43-37 with 2:40 left but got outscored 12-0 to close out the game and end the season 22-12.
“The last two minutes of the game just came to will,” said Natchitoches Central coach Micah Coleman. “I can’t say enough about their will. It didn’t come down to any plays or sets. It just came down to our guys deciding they weren’t leaving tonight without a win.”
Natchitoches Central (29-2), the defending Class 5A champions, advances to Friday’s 8 p.m. title game to play Scotlandville.
It will be a rematch of last year’s title game that Natchitoches Central won 60-53.
Brandon Rachal scored 15 points and Danny Cohen had 13 to lead the Chiefs.
NEW LIVING WORD 62, ELIZABETH 58: Defending champion New Living Word had just enough to outlast Elizaberth in the first a Class C semifinal.
Third-seeded NLW (31-10) advances to play No. 1 Atlanta (31-5) in the Class C final set for 4 p.m. Friday. The Lions pushed their lead to 10 points, at 48-38, through three quarters. But No. 2 Elizabeth got within two at 60-58 on a 3-pointer by Colby LeFauci with 1:03 remaining.
Xavier Roper, who led NLW with 22 points and 12 rebounds, blocked a shot in the closing seconds to help clinch the win. Xavious Williams added 17 and Kwantavious Harri had 11 for the winners.
LaFauci had a game-high 23 points for Elizabeth (27-8). Kolby Friday (14) and Trey Maddox (12) were other leaders for Elizabeth.
ATLANTA 56, GIBSLAND-COLEMAN 36: Atlanta outscored No. 4 Gibsland-Coleman 37-17 in the second half its Class C semifinal.
Taren Sapp I scored 18 second-half points to help power the Bulldogs (31-5). He finished with a game-high 25 points, while Lashard Powell added 13. Xavian Haulcy led Gibsland-Coleman (22-7) with 18 points.
Gibsland-Coleman led 11-8 after one quarter. The scored was tied at 19 at halftime. Atlanta took control with a 16-9 third-quarter run.