Terriers erase late deficit to beat Braves


Vandebilt Catholic's Elijah McGuire (back) goes up for a shot as H.L. Bourgeois player Chris Harris (front) tries to draw the offensive foul on Friday night in Gray. The Terriers won, 78-76. (Photo by Jim Cenac/Correspondent)


GRAY — When Vandebilt Catholic coach Henry Washington looked up at the scoreboard midway through the fourth quarter, he saw his Terriers facing a 10-point deficit against nondistrict rival H.L. Bourgeois on Friday.

Instead of getting nervous or upset, Washington pulled his team to the side during a timeout with 4 minutes to go in the game and gave them an important pep talk.

"I told them we're just going to keep playing," Washington said. "We're just going to play basketball. We're not drawing anything up on the marker board. We're not coming up with any gimmicks or nothing like that. We're just going to play basketball."

Washington's impromptu sideline speech ignited another fierce fourth-quarter charge from the Terriers, who stormed back in the final minutes to take a 78-76 victory.

The Terriers were led by their two senior star guards, Lionheart Leslie (33 points) and Elijah McGuire (28 points), who combined for 61 of Vandebilt's 78 points. The Terriers' next leading scorers, Aaron Smith and Justen Harris, had five points each.

The game was close throughout. It was tied at 20 after the first quarter before H.L. Bourgeois took leads of 41-37 at halftime and 60-52 after the third quarter.

Friday's win wasn't the first comeback win this season for Vandebilt (13-6 overall). During a nondistrict road game last week against Southern Lab, Vandebilt was down by 11 points with 2 minutes to play before rallying back to win 79-75.

Whenever they were down, Leslie said the Terriers never give up because of the encouragement from their coach.

"Coach (Washington) kept our heads up and kept pumping us up to keep our momentum and composure when we were down," Leslie said. "We've just got a good coach. All we have to do is listen to him. When we listen to him, things go well. When we don't listen to him, it's a hard game. We just kept pushing and working until we won it."

H.L. Bourgeois (17-4) had four double-digit scorers in Teren Morris (24 points), Marlin Bonvillain (18 points), Isaac Allridge (12 points) and Davonte Dickerson (10 points).

The Braves led for most of the second half, extending their lead to 72-61 with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter when Morris scored a lay-up on a pass from Bonvillain.

Washington said the Terriers switched from a full-court man defense to a half-court press in the fourth, which he said put the pressure on the Braves' ball handlers.

"We got in front of them," Washington said. "We were hustling. We were making sure Marlin didn't get the ball. When Ike got it, they were supposed to double him. We were going to make the other players play point guard. They started turning it over. We just kept hustling and kept playing."

McGuire scored two quick baskets off of Braves' turnovers, and the comeback was on.

With 3:01 left, Vandebilt got a 3-pointer from Harris, a steal from McGuire that led to a Leslie layup and two free-throws from Harris to cut H.L. Bourgeois' lead to 76-74 with 1:51 remaining.

The Braves had an opportunity to extend their lead on an easy basket late, but they missed three straight layups under the goal to come away empty.

With the momentum on its side, Vandebilt got clutch free throws from McGuire and Leslie in the final seconds to pull off the win.

Despite holding the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, the Braves (25 turnovers) were outscored 26-16 in the final period.

"We've got to be able to finish," H.L. Bourgeois coach Andrew Caillouet said. "It's just sickening. We have kids that can handle the ball, and we shouldn't be turning the ball over. We just didn't take care of it. We made some poor decisions."

The Braves have lost four games this season, with three of them coming against Vandebilt.

"They are a great team, but when you lose three games in one year to one team, it's tough to swallow," Caillouet said. "We felt like we gave them a couple of gifts in games this season. Not to take anything away from what they did — they had to play hard, and they had to come back and make the plays, but we had the ability to put it away and we just didn't."

COVENANT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 59, HIGHLAND BAPTIST 29 (BOYS)

At New Iberia, the Lions improved to 11-3 overall and got 12 points from Datren Williams, 11 points and six steals from Jordan McKay and 11 rebounds from Willie Brown.

CCA led 16-6 after the first quarter, 29-12 at halftime and 49-22 at the end of the third quarter.

HIGHLAND BAPTIST 27, COVENANT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 16

At New Iberia, the Lady Lions got four points each from Lesha Waller and Destinee Lyons.