Narrow loss heartbreaking for top-seeded Spartans _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Salmen's bench takes in their loss to Walker Landry in the Class 4A final Saturday in Lake Charles.

LAKE CHARLES — Salmen coach Jay Carlin summed it up best after the game.

“The basketball gods just were not smiling down on us tonight,” he said.

Tied at 35 with less than 10 seconds left, Salmen had the ball with a chance to win the state title. Trevor Carrere was called for a five-second call, and five seconds later Salmen had lost the state championship game on Keytaon Thompson’s miracle put-back, giving Landry-Walker the Class 4A crown.

“I’m proud of my guys and how they played,” Carlin said. “I’m proud of the way they competed. They put themselves in position to win the ballgame, except the last seven, eight seconds of the ballgame. We talk about having to play every second of every minute. Our guys played their hearts out. We couldn’t ask for a better effort.”

Trailing 18-11 at the half, Landry-Walker opened the second half on a 7-0 run to tie it at 18. Salmen responded with back-to-back buckets by Vickers and Vinson to take 22-18 lead.

Landry-Walker took a brief 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter, but Salmen answered with a 6-0 run all via free throws to take the lead back at 34-31.

A low-scoring affair in the first half, Salmen led 10-6 after the first eight minutes and held Landry-Walker (22-10) to only five points in the second quarter. The story of the first half was the Salmen defense. Despite being outrebounded 9-4 in the first-half, Salmen held the Chargin’ Bucs to only three made field goals on only 10 attempts.

“We felt like some things in the last few seconds could have gone our way,” Carlin said. “It just didn’t go our way. It is what it is.”

Corey Vinson had the ball late in the game with a chance to win the game, but a jump ball was called giving the Spartans the ball with seven seconds left.

“Our point guard went hard to the paint and two guys went at him and we unfortunately come out with a jump ball,” Carlin said. “It is what it is. We wanted to be aggressive and get to the hole or at least pitch it to the rim. After that, Landry-Walker made the play, and we didn’t.”

A disappointed Cameron Vickers was still in disbelief in the postgame news conference.

“It hurts really badly,” Vickers said. “Especially since this was the last game with my brother (Chris). I wish it could have ended better. After we turned it over, I saw Lamar (Peters) coming up with a 3-point attempt, and I actually thought they had less time. Keytaon came out of nowhere and got the put back. We should have boxed out.”