Article published Feb 28, 2008
Hurricanes out run E. Iberville
By Shaun Hearen
LEBEAU - It is early in the track season, but Tuesday night's playoff game between No. 8 North Central and No. 9 East Iberville sure looked like a track meet.
North Central's Lennox Bates (4) goes up for a basket in front of East Iberville's Cameron Lodge (21). North Central defeated East Iberville in the Class 1A quarterfinals and will travel to face No. 1 Christian Life Friday.
The two teams raced up and down the floor as fans' eyes darted back and forth as if watching the ball during a tennis match. The fans for both teams cheered ferociously as the 10 players on the court displayed video-game like moves. But when the final buzzer sounded it was East Iberville fans who were looking for the reset button. North Central's Lennox Bates scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter in an 89-86 win and the Hurricanes are now on to the Class 1A quarterfinals where they will be greeted by No. 1 Christian Life.
"I am getting too old for this," said North Central head coach Butch Fontenot with a laugh.
Yes, the pace of the game was not for the faint of heart. But the veteran coach was prepared for such an event. Fontenot played 13 players during the first half.
"I expected it to be a fast game," said Fontetot. "And we really wanted to pick up the pace. I wanted to (go deep on the bench) because I was trying to wear (East Iberville) down thinking about that big fourth quarter."
The fourth quarter would indeed prove huge in this game. The Hurricanes entered the final eight minutes trailing the Tigers 61-59. North Central had trailed 52-44 with 4:50 to play in the third quarter after East Iberville went on a 10-0 run. But the Hurricanes rallied to out score the Tigers 15-9 the rest of the third.
"We knew we had to step up or defense and hold tight," said Bates.
Bates heeded his own words. The North Central guard scored three straight baskets to start the fourth quarter and put his team up 65-61 with 6:43 to play. East Iberville quickly regained a 66-65 lead 38 seconds later. But is was Bates to the rescue on the ensuing possession when he connected on a three-point shot to put NCHS up 68-66 with 5:53 to play.
"I told him it was on his shoulders," said Fontenot.
Bates was up for the challenge.
"I knew my team needed me to step up in the fourth," said Bates.
But Bates was not the only Hurricane to make a impact in the game's final period. Joseph Simien netted 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a basket that put North Central up 82-80 with 1:29 remaining on the clock. The Tigers tied the game the game moments later, but that served as a setting of the stage for another Hurricane to make a mark.
With the game tied at 82 with 49 seconds left, Theodore Chambers walked to the free throw line. Two flicks of his wrist later and the Hurricanes found themselves leading 84-82. The defense held the Tigers down and Bates and Javelle Randell put NCHS up 86-82 with 21 seconds to go.
"Hustle and fight," said Bates of what propelled his team Tuesday.
Fontenot said he was proud of his entire team's effort. "The players really responded well tonight," said Fontenot. With the quarterfinals being played Friday, it leaves little time for the players to enjoy Tuesday's win, not they were looking for an extended celebration.
"It feels good," said Bates, "but we have to keep our heads on right because we have a big game coming up Friday against the number one seed."