ST. MARTINVILLE — Avontez Ledet would not be denied.
Ledet, a Lamar signee, scored 37 points and dished out an assist to Joe Bob Wiltz for the game-winning shot in the closing seconds of Cecilia's 57-55 win on Tuesday night.
Last season, the Bulldogs got hot at the right time and advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals as a No. 29 seed.
Coach Scotty Borel said he is hopeful his squad can build similar momentum as District 5-4A action kicks off next Tuesday at Breaux Bridge.
"That was our best, most complete game all year long," Borel said. "I can't say enough about Avontez Ledet. That's why he's a Division I signee and one of the best, if not the best, shooters in Acadiana."
In the first half, Ledet pumped in 11 points with one 3-pointer. In the final two quarters, he drilled seven 3-pointers and scored 26 points.
"His range extends to about 27 feet," Borel said. "You know how you hear people say, 'This player is in a zone?'
"You see all these college and NBA players that are in a zone, and Ledet was in a zone tonight. There was no stopping him."
Ledet hit three field goals to lift Cecilia (9-8) to a 6-0 lead with 3:20 remaining in the first quarter.
With 30 seconds left in the first half, a 3 by Harvey Broussard put St. Martinville (12-9) up 23-17.
Early in the third, the Tigers extended their lead to seven points before Ledet began launching long-range bombs.
"I was surprised because everywhere else we go, they try a box-and-one defense or they double team," Borel said. "Tonight, St. Martinville took on the challenge and did a good job.
"Ledet made tough shots. Some shots, you want to say, 'Don't take that,' but with him in that zone, you just have to let it go."
St. Martinville coach Ihmaru Jones said his players were supposed to be double-teaming Ledet.
"If they would have followed my directions, he's not even getting the chance to shoot that," Jones said. "In the fourth quarter, especially, they were supposed to double him and make him get off the ball.
"Then they're not supposed to let him get it back. That's the directions they were supposed to follow."
With six seconds left, Ledet drove to the basket and found Wiltz in the paint for a high-percentage game-winning shot.
"You know, a lot of people don't credit Ledet enough for his passing and court vision," Borel said. "But he's a complete package. We just ask him to do too much.
"We ask the guys to be ready and available, and he'll get them the ball. You saw that tonight."
Wiltz added 16 points.
"Joe Bob sure did make some key buckets," Borel said. "Our staff has been doing an excellent job of working with our post players.
"Joe Bob just has to work on his hands because he's 6-foot-6. It's a great thing to have a big man like him to complement Ledet."
Ledet said he was motivated by multiple factors Tuesday, including redemption for a 62-54 loss to St. Martinville last year.
"Last year, we did badly in a big game against them," he said. "It's a big rivalry. We just had to work hard and come out and play."
"I had to lead my team. I knew that's what I had to do to get the win, and that's what I did. It's going to continue like that. Once I hit my first one, that's it. It's hard to guard me. It feels good to win because half my family is from St. Martinville, and they've been talking. I came out and showed them what we're doing in Cecilia."
Harvey Broussard had 15 points for St. Martinville. Jalen Mitchell added 14 and Xavier Kately scored 11.
"It disappointed me that we weren't poised," Jones said. "We fell into that trap of 'You shoot a 3, I'll shoot a 3.'
"That's not our game. That's not what we practice. We fell into that mode where the guys just wanted to hear the crowd go, 'Ooh!' if we make it. That's not basketball, man. That's not what I teach."