But on Friday it was Washington-Marion’s turn to win, and it made a statement by blowing out the Tigers 107-57.
“These kids have been waiting on this game ever since we lost the first one,” said W-M head coach Albert Hartwell. “Last week I was worried about Beau Chene and they were already thinking about Opelousas. This game meant a whole lot to them; they thought they should have won the first game and they wanted this win real bad.”
The win tied W-M (20-3, 10-1) for the district lead with LaGrange. If the Gators are successful in beating Opelousas (19-9, 7-3) on Tuesday, it will set up a showdown for the district championship against the Indians next Friday at LaGrange.
“We all feel pretty good and we just hope that we can continue to keep doing what we are doing,” Hartwell said. “We have to stay within the system, the kids are doing what we ask of them and playing together.”
For the first two minutes Friday night it looked as if the Tigers would again knock off the Indians, but after a timeout W-M came to life and began its onslaught. The teams traded points back and forth for a few minutes before the Indians started a 15-2 run that spanned 2 minutes and was capped off by a rim-rattling dunk from sophomore forward Mark Vital. W-M led 31-15 after the first quarter.
“We had to find the right group that was going to give us the momentum to get off on the right foot,” Hartwell said.
Vital was the key component for the Indians, finishing with a jaw-dropping stat line of 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight steals, seven assists and three blocks — all but rebounds were game highs.
“We are always proud of Mark and he plays an instrumental part in what we are trying to do, but he is always trying to do something to excite the crowd and school,” Hartwell said. “His teammates and him are so close and they play well together.”
W-M continued its barrage of points in the second quarter behind 13 points from Tavares Berard, and entered the locker room with a 59-28 lead.
The second half was no different as the W-M exploded with each basket.
Also scoring in double digits for the Indians were Dionte Dixon with 19, Berard with 18, Demond Delahoussaye with 18 and Dedrick Richmond with 11.
Leading the way for Opelousas was Kennon Garrett, who finished with 19 points. DaQuan Bellard also finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.