Bench players lift Ellender past Terrebonne

Ellender's Justin Johnson (23) goes up for a shot as Terrebonne's Kavaughn Wesley (34) and Damion Hamilton (5) defend during Monday's nondistrict game in Houma. (Photo by Chris Heller/Staff)

During an intense fourth-quarter battle against rival Terrebonne on Monday, first-year Ellender coach Cornell Scott started getting a little short on troops.

The Patriots entered the game without the services of two injured starters (Jarred Turner and Cameron Parfait), and four of their starting players (Jaylen Coleman, Jasi Barabin, Eric Welch and Brandon Brinson) had fouled out during the showdown against Terrebonne.

Scott was forced to hand the reigns over to his bench and several young players, which consisted of junior Justin Johnson, sophomore Leland Alexander and freshmen Curtis Anderson, Michael Steward and Corey Butler.

And the backups came to the rescue in a big way.

Johnson scored a team-high 16 points, and Anderson made 6-of-6 free throws late in the fourth quarter to lift the Patriots to a 70-64 win in Terrebonne's gym.

The Tigers opened the fourth quarter with a 50-45 lead, and they extended it to 58-55 with 3:01 left.

That's when Ellender (4-2 overall) started its late rally. Johnson got a steal and scored on a lay-up to give Ellender a 59-58 lead, and after getting another turnover on the next play, he dished out an assist that led to a Steward lay-up to put the Patriots on top, 61-58, with 1:52 left.

Thanks to its pressure defense and free-throw shooting from Anderson down the stretch, the Patriots jumped out to a six-point lead late and never looked back, which put a big smile on the face of Scott, a former Terrebonne High player.

"They showed some resiliency," Scott said. "I finished the game with three freshmen and a sophomore. I'm proud of how hard they fought. It's always a dogfight with Terrebonne. That's the school I graduated from, so I know how they play. They never quit also. (Terrebonne coach Derek) Szush is doing a good job with them. I'm just glad to come out with the win."

Monday's game was the first action of the season for Johnson, who was held out for the first part of the season with a thigh injury. With several of Ellender's key players sidelined with injuries or fouled out of the game, Johnson said he knew it was time for him to step up.

"I told the coaches to give me the ball. I know I could do it," Johnson said. "We were playing with some young players, and I just knew I had to step up big and be a leader for my team in the fourth quarter."

Other leading scorers for Ellender were Alexander (14 points), Barabin (12 points) and Welch (11 points).

The game was close throughout as it had six ties and 10 lead changes. Ellender led 16-12 after the first quarter and 37-36 at halftime, but Terrebonne (3-4) rallied to take a 50-45 lead after the third quarter.

In the end, Szush said its was free-throw shooting (13-for-28) and turnovers (18) that hurt his young Tiger squad.

"We made a couple of mental mistakes (Monday night) in the fourth quarter, but it's going to come with experience," Szush said. "I think we're going to be alright. If we clean a couple of little things up, we're going to be competitive. We're a couple of games away from being a really solid team."

DeShaun Diggs, who hit five of Terrebonne's six 3-pointers, led the Tigers with 27 points. Alden Wesley added 10 points for Terrebonne, while Ezell Garner had nine points.

It was the second time this season that Ellender defeated Terrebonne. The Patriots picked up a 60-59 overtime win over the Tigers at the Morgan City tournament on Nov. 21.

The next scheduled meeting between the Patriots and the Tigers is on Dec. 10 at Ellender, and Szush is expecting another big battle between the rivals.

"I enjoy being apart of the Ellender/Terrebonne rivalry," Szush said. "It doesn't matter who is out there, at anytime or any year, it's going to be a heck of a game between Terrebonne and Ellender."


At Mandeville, Northshore raced out to a 25-7 first-quarter lead and never looked back in handing South Lafourche its first defeat of the season in Monday's nondistrict game.

The Tarpons (4-1) trailed 38-13 at halftime and 57-31 after three quarters.

Shawn Cheramie led South Lafourche with 15 points, while Grant Pitre added 11.


At Destrehan, the Wildcats outscored the Gators 15-4 in the third quarter to pull away for the nondistrict win on Monday.

Destrehan led 13-12 after the first quarter, 29-26 at halftime and 44-30 after three quarters.

Chandler Arceneaux led the Gators (0-3) with 13 points, and Patrick Wilson added 12.


At St. James, Jared Wiggins scored 26 points with nine rebounds and five assists to lead the Wildcats to Monday's nondistrict win.

Owen Mumphry added 24 points and two steals for St. James (4-1).


At Baton Rouge, Madison Prep raced out to a 19-6 lead after the first quarter and never looked back in Monday's nondistrict game.

Nate Frye led the Warriors (2-1) with 10 points.