Eagles knock off Tensas

Central Catholic’s Cedric Gant dribbles against Tensas during the Eagles’ Class 1A Bi-district victory Thursday in Morgan City. Gant led the Eagles with 21 points, including four 3-pointers. The Eagles will hit the road for the second round to face the winner of Metairie Park Country Day and Haynesville, who will meet tonight. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)

For us to make free throws and win a basketball game is huge.
By GEOFF STOUTE gstoute@daily-review.com

Central Catholic coach Ree Case said following his squad’s 63-54 Class 1A Bi-District victory against Tensas Thursday that free throws have been the Eagles’ downfall this season.
With No. 20 Tensas (15-16) mounting one of its numerous counter attacks against No. 13 Central Catholic (17-11) late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles picked no better game to be at their best.
Central Catholic made 11 out of 12 free throws in the last 1:25 to hold off Tensas and advance to the Class 1A regional round.
“For us to make free throws and win a basketball game is huge,” Case said. “It’s been the worse part of our game all year. We’ve been very inconsistent.”
The win was the Eagles’ third in as many years against Tensas, but unlike in year’s past, Thursday night’s contest was not a problem.
While the Eagles were able to jump out to big leads at times, Tensas’ height and length caused the home team problems.
While Central Catholic jumped out to as much as a 15-4 lead in the first quarter following a long 3-pointer by Cedric Gant, Tensas began to climb its way back into the game with layups. Back to back buckets — the last one a runner near the buzzer — by Jayvonta Gill had cut the Tensas deficit to 15-11 at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles also were hurt in the initial period by foul trouble as starters Nicholas Case and Tyler Hoffpauir both picked up two fouls but continued to play in the first half.
Tensas continued to cut into the Central Catholic lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles during the first four-plus minutes of the quarter to take an 18-17 lead on a bucket with about 3:13 remaining in the first half and another bucket by Perry Scott for a 20-17 lead.
However, Gant tied the game at 20 with another 3-pointer with about two minutes remaining and Stefano Guarisco’s layup as well as another Gant trey, both with less than a minute remaining, gave the Eagles a 25-20 halftime lead.
Central Catholic looked as if it would break the game early in the third quarter as Jalen Johnson, who was quiet during the first half, got two quick buckets and Central Catholic scored the quarter’s first eight points to take a 33-20 lead.
The Eagles continued to extend their lead in the quarter to as much as 39-24 on a Case three-pointer, but Tensas wouldn’t go away, cutting the deficit to 41-36 on a Timothy Parks two-pointer with less than 1:30 remaining in the third quarter.
While Central Catholic took a 46-38 lead into the fourth quarter, the Eagles had to overcome some adversity in the final period as both Hoffpauir and Guarisco fouled out and towards the end of the fourth quarter, Tensas suddenly caught fire with from three-pointers in the period to cut the deficit to 54-47.
However, the Eagles were able to seal the contest from the free throw line.
Coach Case commended Paul for his play with the Eagles limited by players fouling out.
“He handled the offense, and he made nine out of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, which kept the lead big enough for us to win,” Case said.
Gant led the Eagles with 21 points, including four of Central Catholic’s seven 3-pointers.
“Cedric’s been our sixth man all year,” Coach Case said. “He just gives us energy off the bench. I made a decision — he had played so well in the first half — to start him in the second half, which turned out to be really big because it gave Samarick some rest so when he did come in and play the minutes he had to play, he was fresh.”
Other top contributors included Case with 14 points, Hoffpauir, 11; Paul, nine; and Guarisco and Johnson with four each.
Jayvonta Gill led Tensas with 17 points, while Kiante Turner had nine, Isaiah Chase, eight, and Grant Jackson, seven, to lead Tensas.
Central Catholic now will await the winner of No. 4 Metairie Park-Country Day and No. 29 Haynesville tonight to see who it will play in the Class 1A regional round. Regardless of the game’s outcome, though, the Eagles will be on the road in the next round.

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