MONROE —After beating district rival Northside High School twice during the regular season, St. Thomas More’s boys basketball team was looking for a sweep in the most important contest on Friday night.
The Cougars did just that, beating their Lafayette rivals 51-43 to capture the Class 4A state title at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
Matt Roberts and Trey Touchet each had 15 points for the Cougars (33-4). Ryan Randle added 10 points and four rebounds as the Cougars captured their first state championship since the 1986 season. Gerard Andrus led Northside (27-6) with a game-high 17 points and Paul McZeal had 10 points and seven rebounds.
“I have been calling this team special all year long and tonight they showed why they are,” Cougars coach Danny Broussard said. “I knew it early on that this was a special group of young men. Did I know that we could win the state championship? No, I surely didn’t, but this bunch I just can’t describe how special of a bunch that they are.
“Northside came in with a great game plan, but we made some adjustments at halftime and just decided that we would start attacking. That meant Northside couldn’t double-team our guys anymore, and it got us some easy baskets.”
St. Thomas More took after halftime following after back-to-back baskets by Roberts and Touchet for a 21-18 lead. It was a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the game.
Northside got as close as 31-28 near the end of the third quarter, but the Cougars immediately answered with a 6-0 run to extend the lead to 37-28 at the start of the final quarter and all but put the game out of reach.
One of the biggest stories of the game was turnovers as the Cougars forced the Vikings into 25 of them, something Vikings coach Devan Clark said was the major difference in the game.
“When you turn the ball over 25 times, it is hard to beat a team like St. Thomas More,” Clark said. “We did a good job at times tonight, but they just kept turning us over.
“I talked about it all week leading up to the game about how we had to take care of the basketball.”
Broussard said the Cougars wanted to take advantage of a young Vikings backcourt.
“That was our game plan coming in from the start,” he said. “We knew Northside had good size, but their ball-handlers are young. He (Clark) had a freshman starting out there in the backcourt. That is a lot of pressure on a young kid. I just said let’s go after them.”
The Vikings led most of the first half and had an 11-8 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.