Defense propels Gents past Notre Dame
By Chris Quebedeaux
CROWLEY – With his offense sputtering Friday night, Crowley High coach Derrick Boone was forced to change his game plan in midstream.
Boone’s Gents, deadlocked at 28-28 with just four minutes remaining in a key District 5-AAA contest against cross-town rival Notre Dame, switched from a zone defense to a fullcourt man defense.
That decision proved to be monumental.
The Gents went on to force Notre Dame into nine turnovers and went on a 15-2 run in the final minutes to walk away with a 45-30 victory over the homestanding Pios.
Crowley improved to 14-8 overall and 1-1 in league play with the victory. The Pios fell to 8-14 and 0-2.
“I wanted to change some things up,” said Boone of going with the press. “We slowed things up, but we were getting out of our game. I wanted to speed things up on the defensive side and kind of give us a little spark. When we get steals like that, it’s a momentum builder.”
The momentum shifted instantly with Crowley’s press. The Gents forced three straight turnovers and converted them all into points before Notre Dame’s Nick Zaunbrecher came up with a steal and hit a layup with just under two minutes left.
The Pios managed to get the ball past halfcourt just twice following Zaunbrecher’s basket.
In all, the Pios turned the ball over 20 times.
“Up until the last five minutes or so, the game could have been won by anybody,” said ND coach Mark Jones. “We just had a bad spell and that was the game right there. We didn’t handle the pressure.”
Crowley’s scoring barrage in the final minutes was the largest of the night in a gam that saw the two teams combine for just six points in the second quarter.
Crowley opened the game on a 6-0 spurt but led just 14-9 to start the second quarter.
Notre Dame scored a total of four points in the second quarter while Crowley could muster just two.
“We slowed the game down early because we didn’t want to start making turnovers and give them (Notre Dame) too many opportunities,” said Boone. “It is tough playing on the road and once you fall behind, it’s tough to come back.”
Fortunately for the Gents, they trailed just once. A free throw by Taylor Thibodeaux with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter gave the Pios a 22-21 advantage.
The Pios’ lead was short lived though. The Gents regained the lead on Jerrell Andrus’ jumper in the lane seconds after Thibodeaux’s free throw and took a 26-24 advantage into the final frame.
Andrus finished the game with 12 points as did Notre Dame’s Nick Zaunbrecher.
The Gents’ Dexter Scott was the only other player in double figures with 11 points.
Also contributing for Crowley were Tevin Barker and Therion Beverly with seven points each; Michael Harmon, three; Darius Harrison and Keith Pierson, two each and Donovan Morris with one.
Zaunbrecher was followed by Thibodeaux with seven points, Morgan Allen with five, Charlie Ropp with four and Robert Johnson with two.
Crowley’s victory sets up another key contest Tuesday when Northwest (14-9, 1-0) comes to town.
“I told my guys coming in that this was a must-win game for us because it would be tough going into Tuesday’s game at 0-2,” said Boone. “By no means would we be done, but it would have been a steep hill to climb. In this district here, you can throw the records out the window. Anyone can win or lose every Tuesday and Friday.”
Notre Dame also has a big game Tuesday. The Pios travel to Church Point to take on the Bears who are 1-0 in league play after upsetting Crowley earlier in the week.