Figaro's buzzer beater lifts Crowley past Redemptorist
CROWLEY – Crowley High’s Tuskani Figaro has always envisioned himself hitting a game-winning shot.
He even works on it after practice, counting down the seconds in his head as he launches a shot toward the goal.
Tuesday, that practice and mental preparation paid off when the opportunity arose in the final seconds of the Gents’ Class AAA regional playoff game against Redemptorist at the CHS gym.
With the scored tied at 68-68 with five seconds left, the Gents inbounded the ball and Jerrell Andrus drove up the middle. As the Redemptorist defenders collapsed on him, Andrus kicked the ball out to Figaro on the wing.
Figaro gave a quick pump fake, stepped to the right and then drained a dramatic 3-pointer as the horn sounded to lift the Gents to a thrilling 61-58 victory over the visiting Wolves.
“It felt good when it left my finger tips,” said Figaro of his game-winning shot. “I knew it was going in. As I made the shot, I really didn’t know what to do. It was just so overwhelming.”
The near capacity crowd knew exactly what to do; they stormed the court and a member of the CHS student body hoisted Figaro onto his shoulders.
“You know, the play wasn’t drawn up for Tuskani,” admitted CHS coach Derrick Boone following the victory that sent his squad to 23-7 on the year. “We were just trying to get a good shot and it worked out that way. I knew he was going to knock it down when he got it. He’s a clutch player.”
Figaro’s buzzer beater also propelled Crowley into the Class AAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1999. The Gents will travel to Monroe Friday to take on No. 3 seed Carroll, which defeated No. 14 Bogalusa Tuesday, 80-31.
“This was a tremendous win tonight,” said Boone. “Throughout the season we’ve won all types of games. We’ve blown teams out, we’ve come from behind, we’ve won close ones...this game was a mixture of all that.
“They took a big lead on us and we came back. We made some mental mistakes, but these are high school kids and that’s going to happen. But we really battled out there and we came away with the victory.”
Things looked bleak for the Gents early on as Redemptorist jumped out to a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter.
The Gents responded, however, going on a 10-4 run to end the frame trailing just 18-14.
The Wolves upped their lead to 10 again in the second frame (32-22) before the Gents rallied to cut the advantage to 37-33 at the break.
“We really didn’t play all that well in the first half, “ said Boone. “Coming in, we wanted to push the ball and we didn’t do that much in the first half. When we did do it, that’s when we made our run and that kind of rattled them a little bit.”
The Gents took their first lead of the game with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter (38-37). From that point on, there were eight lead changes and two ties before Figaro’s dramatic shot.
“The main thing for us was that we didn’t panic even though we were down,” said Boone. “We’ve been in this position before. We felt if we could keep it close down the stretch that we had a good chance of pulling it out.”
A big reason for the Gents’ success was their ablity to keep Redemptorist off the offensive boards. The Gents limited the Wolves to one shot on the offensive glass and dominated on the defensive side with a number of second- chance points.
“We anchored down tonight and we didn’t let it get away from us,” said Boone.
Dylan Montgomery played a huge role in the victory despite scoring just seven points. He cleaned the boards, racking up 13 rebounds, most of them in the fourth quarter.
“Dylan really stepped up on the boards tonight,” said Boone. “He got tougher in the paint and he had a number of key defensive rebounds down the stretch.”
Andrus and Figaro paced the Gents with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Davante Bourque had 17;Danny Malbrough added two points and Damon Malbrough scored one.
“The good thing about this team is that you can’t just key in on one guy,” said Boone. “Everyone steps up in their own way. We have guys who can score and everybody comes out and does their job.”
Redemptorist’s Gervaughn McGhee led all scorers with 25 points, 21 of them in the first half.
Nico Talbert, Taylor Armstrong and Raymond Bowen each scored nine points in the loss.