LAFAYETTE — Brother Martin basketball coach Chris Biehl took a timeout midway through the first quarter and chastised his team’s play against Carencro in Saturday’s first-round game of the 33rd annual St. Thomas More Sunkist Shootout.
The Bears’ aggressive defense forced seven first-quarter turnovers, including three charges, to disrupte the Crusaders’ rhythm.
Carencro was just getting started.
After six first-quarter lead changes the Bears took the lead for good at the end of the quarter and stretched it out to a comfortable 19-point lead before settling for a 66-56 victory, avenging a first-round defeat against the Crusaders in last year’s event.
“It helped a lot,” Carencro sophomore guard Braylon Chaisson said of the win that sends the Bears into second-round play Sunday at 5:30 p.m. against Comeaux. “It’s a big win because they beat us bad last year. We got revenge.”
The victory, the fourth straight for Carencro (12-3), was a reminder of the potential of this year’s team.
With three starters returning from a team that went 18-11 and stunned St. Augustine 56-53 in a No. 29 versus No. 4 first-round Class 5A playoff game last season Carencro, now in Class 4A, reeled off six straight wins to start this season.
Then the Bears ran into their first rough patch of the season, dropping three of their next five games, prompting a shift in personnel, with starters Arden Adams and Bryson Fontenot moving to the bench.
The result has been four straight victories for a team that’s exhibited balanced scoring, high-percentage shooting and grit and determination.
“It’s a reminder of what we’re capable of doing,” Carencro coach Christopher Kovatch said.”We just want to play to our ability each night. We feel we shouldn’t have lost the three games we did. No discredit to anyone, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do.”
Adams equaled a game-high 17 points, bolstering Carencro’s bench play which held a decided 25-4 advantage over Brother Martin (5-7).
Chaisson added 16 and D’Andre Dudley 14.
The Bears were proficient from 3-point range, making 4 of 11 in the first half and 7 of 15 (47 percent) for the game, to help extend their lead to 30-21 at halftime with Dudley making a pair of treys and Travis Zeno another during the second half.
Carencro compensated for its lack of size on the inside and overcame a minus-11 rebound differential with 68.4 percent shooting and forced Brother Martin into a total of 18 turnovers and limited them to 38 percent shooting.
The Bears opened a 48-29 lead on the strength of a 9-0 spurt late in the third quarter where Dudley scored seven straight points, capped by a snowbird lay-in with 1:46 showing.
“We have to do it consistently every game,” said Chaisson, who had 8 rebounds and made 7 of 11 shots. “We’re taking each game step by step.”
COMEAUX 52, TIOGA 44: Michael Smith’s three-point play with 3:11 remaining gave Comeaux the lead for good and propelled the Spartans past Tioga.
That sparked a 7-0 run in which DeVaughn Thomas contributed a driving layup, to go along with two free throws from Ferontay Banks for a 48-42 lead with 45.2 seconds to play.
“We were able to get a couple of offensive boards, a couple of free throws that seperated us,” Comeaux coach Jeremy Whittington said. “That was nice to see that we could stretch it a bit at the end.”
Smith capped Comeaux’s 20-point fourth-quarter lead with a pair of free throws, sending the Spartans (10-4) to a second-round game Sunday at 5:30 p.m. against Carencro.
Thomas paced Comeaux with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting, while Banks added 12 and Smith 11.
The Spartans shot 52.4 in the second half and 51.4 overall.