Crowley edges Bunkie in Class 3A playoff opener
By: Garland Forman
CROWLEY - It was not a pretty game and it was too close for comfort for the Crowley Gents.
However, they advanced to the second round of the Class-AAA boys basketball playoffs with a 54-46 win over the Bunkie Panthers on Friday night in a game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of the game.
The Gents, the sixth seed, will host the Redemptorist Wolves on Tuesday night. Redemptorist, the 11th seed in the playoffs, defeated the defending state champs in Class-AAA, Vidalia, 79-49, in Baton Rouge.
It was a defensive game between Bunkie and Crowley and neither team seemed to show much offense during the game.
“Our shots were just not falling tonight,” Crowley Head Coach Derrick Boone said after the game. “This would have been a blow out by either team if someone would have capitalized on the other team’s mistakes.”
The Gents, 22-7 overall, struggled from the field all night and just when it looked as if they had put Bunkie away, the Panthers fought their way back into the game. Both Coach Boone and Bunkie Head Coach Maury Skluzacek felt the play of the game came just as the third quarter was ending. Damon Malbrough had just scored on a layup but then took a missed Bunkie shot and streaked toward the Crowley goal. He made the layup and was fouled. He missed the free throw but an unsettling 34-31 lead by Crowley became a 38-31 lead.
“It wasn’t that big play you were hoping for in a game but it did give us a little breathing room going into the fourth quarter,” Coach Boone explained.
The Panthers, who ended the season with a 12-13 overall record, tried to come back in the fourth quarter after Crowley extended the lead to nine points, 44-35, with 5:40 left in the game. Bunkie tried to answer one last time and when Quinshay Adams of Bunkie nailed a 16 foot jumper with one minute left, the Crowley lead was just four points, 48-44.
The Gents then connected on six of ten free throws in the final minute to put the game away.
“Bunkie gave us fits with their defense tonight,” Coach Boone continued. “They are one of the better defensive teams we have faced all year.”
One move the Gents made in the second quarter to try to upset the Bunkie defense was moving guard Jerrel Andrus down low. Andrus responded by scoring six of his 15 points in the second quarter.
Tuskani Figuro also added eight points in the second quarter, including two 3-pointers as Crowley scored 20 points in the period. His last three-pointer came with just three seconds left before the half to give Crowley a 28-19 lead. Figuro would score 15 points in the game.
“Yeah, our guard could not match up with their guard under the goal and it hurt us in the second quarter,” Coach Skluzacek said. “We made an adjustment at halftime and it allowed us to get back into the game. We just could not hit the big shot when we needed it.”