LIVINGSTON — Doyle High School had not played a home since November, thanks to multiple cancelations by opponents for COVID-19 reasons.
The reigning Class 2A champions quickly proved there is no place like home by jumping out to a 26-3 first-quarter lead on the way to a 62-35 victory over Denham Springs in nondistrict girls basketball action Wednesday night.
“We worked on some things and then came out and did the exact opposite and dug ourselves a huge hole,” Denham Springs coach Blake Zito said. “When you get down 26-3, that’s tough.
"It is also a huge credit to what they do. They came out and pressured us and hit shots. Doyle did what they do. We never gave up, and I believe that desire is going to pay off for us.”
The win was the eighth in a row for the Tigers (15-4), who got a game-high 32 points from Elise Jones — 22 of which came in the first half. Presleigh Scott added 15. Libby Thompson scored 11 points and Reagen David chipped in 10 for Class 5A Denham Springs (11-9).
“It was just good to be in our home gym,” Jones said. “The atmosphere we have here really gets us going. I think we did a good job of pushing the ball up the floor. That’s our main strength.
“We like to get up and down the floor, play aggressive defense and get easy layups.”
Doyle executed the game plan Jones described to near perfection the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets struggled to get the ball across midcourt on the Tigers’ high-octane pressure defense.
A 3-pointer by Scott and two baskets by Jones staked Doyle to a 9-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. Kiana Lee made a free throw at the 5:47 mark to make it 9-1.
Denham Springs did not score again until the 2:49 mark. By that time, Doyle was ahead 18-3. The first quarter performance was the perfect daily double for the Tigers. Doyle made 9 of 16 shots from the floor and forced 11 first-quarter turnovers.
Jones, a Southeastern Louisiana University softball signee, scored 16 of Doyle’s 26 first-quarter points. Scott, an SLU basketball signee, finished with 11 rebounds and four assists on the night.
“They were excited to play here,” Doyle coach Samantha White said. “I told them, ‘Y’all, we have not played here since last year. You should be overly excited to play here and come out on fire.’ ”
The Tigers did just that. The pace cooled in the second quarter, which was Denham Springs’ best. As White experimented with a few lineup combinations, the Yellow Jackets outscored the Tigers 17-11 and trailed 37-20 at halftime. Thompson hit two 3-pointers in the period for Denham Springs.
Though they slowed the pace down, Doyle found ways to extend its lead in the second half. The Tigers gave up just 15 second-half points.