SHREVEPORT, Louisiana – Lamar State College Port Arthur trailed by as many as 13 points to Trinity Valley Community College on Tuesday night in the first round of the NJCAA Region 14 Tournament.
Relying on a dominating defense to frustrate the Cardinals over the final 20 minutes of the first-round game at the Gold Dome in Bossier City, Louisiana, the Seahawks rolled to a 76-69 victory. The victory means No. 10 seed LSCPA advances to the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday when the Seahawks will face No. 2 seed Angelina College. That game tips off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast live by coopersports.net.
When the Seahawks (15-16 overall) fell behind by eight to start the game, then 13 points late in the first half, it certainly wasn't apparent that the momentum was about to shift, and in a big way.
"When we got down 13, I wasn't too worried," said LSCPA Head Coach Lance Madison. "I saw it in our kids' eyes from the time we had breakfast this morning all the way up to when we were in the locker room at the half. We had more depth and we were playing every possession like it was the most important.
"Once we settled in and got some defensive stops, I knew we could battle back."
"I'm really happy for them. What a great game they had, stepping up to lead this team tonight," Madison said. "Everyone who went into the game played hard. They were engaged all day leading up to this game and they put everything they had out there on the floor."
When the No. 7 seeded Cardinals (18-12) jumped out to a quick 8-0 advantage to start the game, it was Darion Chatman and Ferontay Banks who kept the Seahawks in the game. When Jones hit a 3-pointer with about seven minutes left in the first half, it wouldn't take long before he and Thomas would knot the game at 24-24 just moments later.
The Cardinals went on a 9-0 run in response to the Jones-Thomas attack, stopped finally when Xavier Thompson hit a bucket with just over two minutes left to the break.
Jones would hit for nine more before the halftime buzzer, pulling the Seahawk to within six at 39-33.
"We had a lot of unforced turnovers in the first half," Madison said. "What kept us in the game was that our defense played really well in the first half."
And it was outstanding in the second half.
Outscored 39-33 in the first half, the Seahawks would only allow 30 more points in the second half while the Jones and Thomas-led offensive show put together a 43-point second half.
In the game, the Seahawks forced the Cardinals into 31 turnovers, converting those into 23 points. The rebounds in the game were even at 38 apiece.
The Seahawks took their first lead of the game at the 13:53 mark of the second half when Jones hit a two-point bucket and was fouled in the process. Deemed a flagrant foul by officials, Jones hit both free throws that followed for the 49-46 advantage. J'Son Brooks followed with a bucket to extend the LSCPA lead to 51-46.
The Cardinals would eventually retake the lead at 54-53 with about 10 minutes to play but a short time later, Kanntrell Burney would give the Seahawks the lead again for good when he was fouled making a bucket. The free throw handed the Hawks a 57-56 lead, an advantage they would not relinquish again.
"What a great win for us against a quality opponent like Trinity Valley Community College," Madison said. "But I told the guys after the game, you have to act like you've been here before. Let's celebrate, forget this one and then get ready for Angelina College on Thursday."