LAFAYETTE — If Northside had beat St. Thomas More on Friday, it would have been an outright District 4-4A title for the Vikings.
The Cougars had other plans, specifically DeVante Benjamin who took the game over and scored 28 points to lead STM to a 79-64 win. The Cougars’ win forces a one-game playoff at 7 p.m. Saturday at Ascension Episcopal.
“Maybe it was because it was senior night,” STM coach Danny Broussard said as to why Benjamin had so much success against Northside. “He had a huge game. He is a good player and when he puts his mind to it, he can get to the rim and finish. He is really hard to stop. He came to play tonight.”
A 5-0 Northside run to begin the third quarter tied it at 29, but Vikings coach Ross Rix said a lack of patience on offense led to some forced shots. STM took advantage with a 12-0 run.
“We started rushing shots and taking forced shots,” Rix said. “We weren’t patient, and they were able to go on a run there. We could never come back from it. We are just going to have to make our adjustments quick and be ready tomorrow. We can’t hang our heads on this one.”
Broussard said the Cougars adjusted to Northside’s 3-point game at halftime with a triangle-and-two defense. That neutralized the 3-point game, and Broussard said that was the key.
“Our defense was tremendous,” he said. “The triangle-and-two took some of their threats away. They made some 3s in the first half, so we adjusted out of what we were doing and I thought our defense was ideal against them.”
Will Vincent had several blocked shots and altered shots that took away the lane. Broussard said he was a difference-maker defensively while also adding 13 points.
“That is what he brings to our team,” Broussard said of Vincent. “He had some big blocks, and he clogs the lane. He had a nice game.”
Broussard said he wished the two teams didn’t have to meet Saturday for the district championship, but he admitted it is better than the alternative.
“We could be out of it, I guess,” Broussard said. “At least we have the opportunity to do it. We have some depth, so I like that. It could really help us out, but we have some guys in there that are tired. I wish we didn’t have to do it, but it is what it is. It is going to be tough.”