To some, The Dunham School’s 72-64 victory over Port Allen was just a title-game in a no-so-significant district tournament.
However, if basketball teams truly are the sum of past efforts and future aspirations, the District 8-2A finale played Saturday at Dunham provided insight for both teams.
One point for Dunham was obvious. When in doubt, the defending Division III select champion Tigers (25-5) opted to go Wright … as in Jordan Wright.
Wright scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, making shots underneath or free throws that helped keep PAHS (19-12) at arm’s length.
“I knew going into the fourth quarter, I had to control it (game),” Wright said. “I brought the ball up most of the game, but at that point I knew I just had to go get it and make shots. They (Port Allen) played with a lot of energy, probably more than anybody we played. We need to be more consistent, especially on defense.”
The game was quite different than the one the two teams played just under a month ago at Dunham. The Tigers rolled to a 78-36 win on Jan. 18, but this time Pelicans tried to rock Dunham’s world.
Port Allen led 14-7 after a 3-pointer by Eric Antoine with 3:52 left in the first quarter. Another 3-pointer by Gerrod Franklin gave PAHS a 17-11 lead. Dunham scored eight of the final 10 points. Ralph Davenport’s 3-pointer gave Dunham a 19-17 lead before PAHS tied it.
The Tigers outscored the Pelicans 19-11 in the second quarter and led 38-30 at the half. Port Allen pushed back in the third quarter. A steal and layup by Tawasky Johnson got PAHS to within one, at 46-45, with 1:54 left.
Johnson led Port Allen with 21 points. Carlos Stewart, who added 13 for Dunham, hit four free throws at the end of the period to give his team a 50-47 lead.
“They are the best team in 2A period regardless of the split,” Port Allen coach Derrick Jones said. “The last time we came here they dismantled us. This is a young group. We play two freshmen. To come back and play this tough and resilient means a lot.”
A layup by Ralph Davenport and three free throws by Wright helped the Tigers extend their lead in the fourth quarter.
“First of all, hats off to Port Allen,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “Derrick has done a great job and those guys are a lot better than they were the last time we played them. We are not as disciplined defensively as we need to be and have been. That is something we can work on moving forward.”