PLAQUEMINE — As the final seconds ticked away in the second overtime, C.J. Young stood near the free-throw line with the ball. The Plaquemine High School senior looked for someone to pass the ball to.
When no one was open, Young lofted a rainbow jumper that hit nothing but net. That shot in the lane with three seconds remaining gave Plaquemine a 73-71 double-overtime victory over East Ascension.
The nondistrict Tuesday night game between Class 5A EAHS (18-4) and Class 4A Plaquemine (12-4) felt more like a playoff game than a January tune-up game.
“I really wanted somebody else to take it,” Young said of the winning shot. “But I shot it. I knew it was good as soon as it left my hands.”
Young’s shot completed a comeback that saw the Green Devils rally from a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter. EA had one last chance but couldn’t get the shot off in time.
“We’ve talked a lot about mental toughness,” PHS coach Donald Ray Johnson said. “Tonight I think we showed some of that. And I think our conditioning also paid off.”
Young led Plaquemine with 21 points. Keandre Randall added 15 and A.J. Riley added 14 for the winners, who have won seven straight.
Le’Aaron Cain scored a game-high 22 points for East Ascension. The Spartans also got 16 points for Koye Ruffin, 12 from Jimel London and 11 from Bilal Frank.
“We had chances to put the game away in regulation,” EA coach Barry Whittington said. “And we both had chances to win it in overtime. We both made mistakes, but I thought both teams played very hard.
“The bottom line is Plaquemine made more plays at the end than we did. That’s it … plain and simple.”
Plaquemine raced out to an 8-0 lead during the first three minutes. The Spartans scored the next five and took an 11-10 lead on a layup by London with 2:38 to go in the first period.
A 3-pointer from the right corner by Cain game increased the EAHS lead to five points, completing a 14-2 run. Young’s basket in the lane with 23.8 points left cut the Spartans lead to 14-13 at halftime.
The Spartans led by as much as six points in the second quarter. A jumper by Ruffin sent EAHS into the locker room with a 29-26 lead.
East Ascension built a 10-point third quarter lead and led 51-42 going into the fourth period. Plaquemine outscored the Spartans 16-4 to start the fourth quarter and led 58-55 after a layup by Riley with 1:23 left. Cain sent the game to overtime with a 3-pointer from the baseline.
Cain also made a free throw with 1.9 seconds left in the first overtime to tie it 63-63. Plaquemine led by as much as four points in the second overtime. Two free throws by Ruffin with 28.4 seconds to go tied it at 71-71 in the second overtime, setting up Young’s game winner.