But then, the Tigers became a victim of their own mistakes late in the contest and with time running, South Lafourche (3-0) sealed the game at the free throw line as well as a first-place finish in the Morgan City High School Tiger Classic with a 46-41 victory Wednesday.
After outscoring South Lafourche 11-6 in the third quarter, Morgan City (2-1) trailed by just one, 33-32, heading into the fourth quarter.
However, South Lafourche jumped ahead, 37-32, on two baskets by Wilbert Rhodes less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
And another basket by Silas Griffin with less than five minutes gave South Lafourche a 39-32 advantage.
While South Lafourche had limited success, Morgan City had none for much of the period as nothing seemed to fall through the net. Even one layup attempt rolled in and out during the period.
Finally, Morgan City broke the drought at the 1:31 mark on a layup and then forced South Lafourche turnovers on its next two possessions.
The first, the Tigers turned into a layup to cut the margin to 39-36, but on the second turnover as Morgan City went for a dunk ---- which rattled out the rim---- instead of a higher percentage shot via a layup with 34 seconds remaining.
During those final 34 seconds, South Lafourche hit seven of eight free throws and Morgan City coach Jeremy Whittington didn’t get the three-point attempt like he wanted on one offensive possession as the squad fell, 46-41.
South Lafourche coach Brian Callias said the free throws down the stretch were key, but he also credited his defense in the win.
“We didn’t want to let them run their sets because they can run a lot of good sets, and so we came out with a little defense where we can try and stop them from running their sets and it paid off for us in the first half and our kids executed at the end,” he said.
Whittington was obviously upset after the tough loss.
“Our kids never gave up,” he said. “The problem is we played thoughtless down the stretch. That was it. … If you count the layups we missed — that dunk, layup, whatever it is — we have control of the game, and they’re on their heels.”
The good news for Morgan City is Wednesday’s contest was only game three.
And even in game 3, not all was bad as Morgan City clamped down on defense in the second half.
“I thought … really the second half we came out to play D,” Whittington said.
It was just the offense that was stagnant at times.
“We (just) didn’t score the basketball, and that’s the problem,” Whittington said. “It’s got to come from everywhere. It can’t come from two guys or one guy.”
While South Lafourche jumped out to a 17-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter, the Tigers clawed their way back in the second quarter.
With Shawn Cheramie, one of the Tarpons’ biggest offensive threats, on the bench with two fouls, the Tigers began to inch their way back into the ball game.
A three-pointer apiece by Zachary Mink and Taylor Brocato approximately 30 seconds apart turned a 21-13 Morgan City deficit into a much more manageable 21-19 deficit.
However, South Lafourche outscored the Tigers 6-2 the rest of the way for the 27-21 halftime advantage.
Although Cheramie came back in the game to start the third quarter, Morgan City still managed to cut into the lead on offense, while on defense they put defenders on him to prevent three-pointers or the ones he did shoot were not successful. He was held scoreless in the third quarter.
Morgan City also was aided by the absence of another South Lafourche playmaker, Treavon Evans, for much of the quarter as Evans went to the South Lafourche bench after falling while trying to score early on in the third.
Morgan City took its only lead of the game, 32-31, on a free throw by Tyrin Watts with 59.7 seconds left before Griffin’s bucket with less than a minute left gave South Lafourche a 33-32 advantage.
Watts was the lone Morgan City player in double figures with 18 points. Other top scorers included Brocato, five; Jaylen Jones, four; and Mink, Eric Walker and Brady Fryou, three apiece.
Four players hit buckets for South Lafourche and all hit double figures. Griffin was tops with 14 points, while Cheramie and Rhodes added 11 apiece and Evans scored 10.
Morgan City will have about a week off from action before returning to the court Nov. 29 in the Centerville Tournament.
In other action Wednesday at the Tiger Classic, Ellender edged Terrebonne, 60-59 in overtime in the third-place game, while Centerville defeated Jeanerette, 61-47 in the consolation final.
Berwick finishes fourth
Berwick High (1-2) fell to Episcopal School of Acadiana, 47-37, Wednesday for a fourth-place finish at the Ascension Episcopal Tournament.
Berwick’s Devin Tabor, who made the all-tournament team, led Berwick with 14 points, while Chaz Russo added seven and Nick Canty chipped in six.
Berwick will return to action, along with its girls’ squad, when both hit the road Tuesday to face Covenant Christian in nondistrict action. Girls’ action will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the boys’ contest.