LaGrange didn’t produce the complete game head coach Cary Collins is looking for, but did enough to survive and advance in its first round game at the Barbe Holiday Hoops Tournament, a 56-50 win over Cecilia.
The Gators (7-5) took a double-digit first half lead, but allowed Cecilia back into the game as the Bulldogs closed the first half with a 13-3 run to narrow the deficit to five points at the break.
Cecilia continued their hot shooting in the third quarter, scoring on six straight possessions to take a 38-31 lead.
But, LaGrange scored on its last three possessions of the quarter while forcing three straight Bulldog turnovers to take a 39-38 lead at the end of the quarter on a three-point play by Nick Pitre.
The Gators never trailed again. The three points were the only ones scored by Pitre, but he made a steal that led to a David Griffin 3-pointer on the play possession prior to his basket. In the fourth quarter, Pitre grabbed two offensive rebounds that led to five second-chance points and had an assist on a backdoor play that gave the Gators a seven-point lead with two minutes left the play.
“He did a good job on the boards for us, he hustled,” Collins said. “We were kind of flat. I don’t know why. We played hard enough just to win. That’s not a good sign, we are getting around the time where you need to be playing consistently all the time. We did some good things. They did a good job against our zone offense. We were just able to hit some shots down the stretch. We were just hanging on, we were not defending them well at all.”
Collins said the Gators have been unable to put four strong quarters together.
“It is always one or the other, we start good but don’t finish, or we finish but don’t start well,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but they haven’t carried it over from one quarter to another or one half to the other.”
Griffin led the Gators with 20 points. Alonzo Pappillion added 17.
Jeremy Wiltz scored a game-high 25 points for Cecilia, including six in the third quarter spurt that gave Cecilia their only lead of the game.
The Gators will face the Iowa-Peabody winner in the second round of the tournament at 6:30 p.m. today.
The host Bucs advanced with a 59-31 win over Hamilton Christian and will play Leesville at 5 p.m. The Wampus Cats beat Westlake 72-49 in the first round.
In other games, Comeaux beat Mansfield 61-48 and Westgate beat Sulphur 56-53.