Church Point rallies past Notre Dame

By Chris Quebedeaux

SPORTS EDITOR

CROWLEY – Basketball is a game of runs and the team that can weather the storm is usually the team that comes out on top.

That was the case Friday in Notre Dame’s 5-AAA showdown with Church Point for second place in the league standings.

Unfortunately for the homestanding Lady Pios, it was Church Point’s Lady Bears who withstood the storm.

The Lady Bears battled back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to slip away with a pivotal 60-54 victory on the Lady Pios’ home court.

Church Point, clinching second place in the league standings, improved to 18-10 overall and 6-2 in league play with the victory.

Notre Dame fell to 17-9 and 5-3.

“We really played well tonight,” said Church Point coach Tim Jones following the victory. “Our girls just dug down deep and never quit fighting.”

Free-throw shooting figured prominently in the outcome.

Notre Dame connected on just 12 of their 27 attempts from the free throw line, while Church Point was 14 for 38 from the stripe.

But the Lady Bears hit their free throws in crunch time and Notre Dame didn’t. The Lady Bears went 6-for-7 from the line in the final 34 seconds while the Lady Pios were 0-for-6 during that span.

“We shot the ball well from the line in the first half,” said ND coach Nolan Theriot, whose team hit seven of their 10 freebies in the first 16 minutes. “Then we shoot 5-for-17 in the second half. We were getting to the line, we just couldn’t knock them down.”

Church Point wound up missing a total of nine free throws in the fourth quarter. But Shalen Handy had two huge offensive rebounds and putbacks with just over a minute to go to put the Lady Bears in position to win the game.

“Those were two huge putbacks by Shalen,” said Jones. “They (Notre Dame) were stepping into the lane quite deep when they were boxing her out so I told Shalen to go around the outside instead of trying to go in the lane to get the rebound. And she did. She’s quick enough and long enough to go around and get it.”

Handy’s second putback cut Notre Dame’s lead to 54-52. Jalisia Citizen then hit a layup and was fouled with 34 seconds remaining. Citizen canned the free throw to put the Lady Bears up 55-54.

From that point on, Church Point outscored Notre Dame 5-0, all from the free throw line.

“Our inability to block out Handy in the second half hurt us,” said Theriot. “We had no one that would step backwards and fight that girl back. It wasn’t like we weren’t trying.”

Handy finished with a game-high 20 points, eight in the fourth quarter. Deniseo Citizen followed with 17 points and Jalisia Citizen scored 11.

Celia Charles paced the Lady Pios with 18 points while Taylor Simon scored 14 and Pannell scored 11.

Also contributing in the loss was Alex Boulet with six points, Emily Vidrine with four and Andre Lyons with one.

Church Point earned an automatic bid into the playoffs by clinching second place in the league standings. Notre Dame will also advance to the playoffs by virtue of their power ranking. The girls’ playoff brackets will be released on Tuesday.

The boys’ game was just as exciting, but the end result was the same for the Pios.

Torey Boudreaux’s putback as time expired lifted the Church Point Bears to a 54-53 victory over the Pioneers.

Church Point improved to 8-18 overall and 2-4 in league play. The Pios fell to 10-18 and 2-4.

Notre Dame rallied from four points down in the final 40 seconds to take a one-point lead courtesy of a three-pointer from B.J. Vidrine and basket from Nick Zaunbrecher.

However, with six seconds remaining, Church Point got four shots off, the final being the dagger by Boudreaux.

Notre Dame led 21-14 in the first quarter before Church Point stormed back to tie the game at 30-30 at the break.

The Bears took a 41-40 advantage after the third quarter and led by as many as six in the final frame before the dramatic finish.

Boudreaux led the Bears with 17 points and Dermond Bellard scored 15. Malcom Kennerson also scored in double figures with 10 points.

Morgan Allen was the high man for the Pios, pouring in 17 points. He was followed by Zaunbrecher with 14 points and Taylor Thibodeaux with eight. Robert Johnson pitched in seven points and Charlie Ropp scored four.

The Pios will be in action again Tuesday when they play host to league-leading Northwest.

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