Late surge lifts Crowley past E.D. White

By Chris Quebedeaux

SPORTS EDITOR

CROWLEY – It wasn’t their best game of the year but, in the end, it was good enough.

The Crowley Gents survived a shakey first-half performance and some even shakier free throw shooting down the stretch Friday to rally past the E.D. White Cardinals, 66-64, in the opening round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

The Gents (21-9) ended an 11-year drought with the victory, earning their first playoff win since the 199 8 season.

Now, the No. 15-seeded Gents will travel to No. 2 Vidalia Tuesday for a regional contest at 7 o’clock.

“E.D. White was everything we expected them to be,” said CHS coach Derrick Boone following the contest. “They are a good 3-point shooting team, very efficient on offense and very patient. We just basically came out flat early on.”

The Gents fell behind 35-28 at the break, but they picked up the intensity on defense in the second half, switching from a zone to man-to-man defense in the third quarter.

The change paid huge dividends.

“We were hoping to stay in the zone the entire game, but once we fell behind, we knew we had to get in that man-to-man and kind of speed the game up a little bit,” said Boone. “We had to get off our behinds and play Crowley High basketball.”

Crowley forced seven turnovers in the third quarter and outscored the Cardinals 16-4 to take a 44-39 cushion into the fourth quarter.

“We had a bad four- or five-minute stretch right there,” said E.D. White coach Jonathan Keife of his team’s play in the third quarter. “Every time we made a mistake they (Crowley) took advantage of it like a good team does. When you’re in a playoff game you can’t afford to have a bad stretch like that because you put yourself in a hole and it could cost you your season.”

The Cardinals battled back in the final quarter, knotting the game at 59-59 with just over a minute to play.

Dexter Scott and Tevin Barker hit two key free throws in the finals seconds that proved to be the margin of victory.

Crowley hit just six of its 16 free throws in the fourth quarter, missing 13 attempts in the final two minutes.

“We missed too many free throws and had some mental mistakes down the stretch that almost cost us,” said Boone. “I’m just glad that it didn’t come back to haunt us. We have to clean that up because it only gets tougher from here on out.”

Scott led the Gents with 23 points and Therion Beverly added 12. Barker was close behind with 11 points; Jerrell Andrus pitched in nine; Michael Harmon scored eight and Darruis Harrison scored three.

Senior guard Bryson Triggs paced the Cardinals with 21 points.

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