BATON ROUGE – There were lessons to be learned for Live Oak when it faced host Woodlawn in summer league basketball action.
The Eagles were without their top player, returning senior Lawrence Pierre, but it gave coach John Capps a chance to watch his other guards handle the pressure of varsity action.
On this night, class was in session as Woodlawn pulled away in the fourth quarter to take a 44-32 win.
With Pierre nursing a tender shoulder on the bench, Live Oak had 21 turnovers, including seven in the fourth quarter after the Eagles had trimmed the Panthers lead to 29-26.
Woodlawn outscored Live Oak 15-6 the rest of the way and the Eagles ended summer league play with a record of 7-7.
“We had some younger guys handling the ball that haven’t done it a lot in varsity situations,” Capps said. “This was a good experience for them. We’ll get better down the road.”
Another plus for Capps was the work of several football players, who he likely won’t see again until after football season has ended.
Amar Pink made three 3-pointers and led the Eagles with 15 points. Bret McCoy worked in the lane to score eight points while Byron Donahue added three points.
“It was good to see some of the football guys in action,” Capps said. “Hopefully, when we see them again (after football) they’ll be ready to go.”
Another boost for Live Oak was the opportunity summer league play provided its upperclassmen who haven’t played much in recent seasons. Aside from Pierre, the Eagles lost all of their starters from last season’s squad that went 17-13 before a first-round playoff loss at Slidell.
“We have some seniors that haven’t played a lot and (summer league) has really been good for them,” Capps said.
Live Oak trailed 29-23 through three quarters but began the fourth strong with Pink’s 3-pointer from the right wing. After a defensive stop, the Eagles had possession of the ball and a chance possibly tie the score. Instead, Bryan Sledge got a steal and drove to the basket as Woodlawn led 31-26.
After Pink scored on a runner in the lane, Live Oak cut its deficit to three points one last time. Donahue misfired on a 3-point try, and Woodlawn scored the next four points to take control for good.
Jackson Howard made four of Woodlawn’s six 3-pointers in the game and led the Panthers with 15 points.
The game was evenly contested in the first quarter. Pink and Donahue each made 3-pointers, and McCoy also scored three points to help tie the score 9-9 after one quarter.
Baylor Wells’ drive from the right baseline had Live Oak within 14-13 midway through the second quarter. Woodlawn responded with an 8-0 run that featured a pair of 3-pointers by Howard.
Woodlawn led 26-17 early in the third quarter before Live Oak scrambled to get within 29-23 entering the fourth.
“Like I told the guys, it wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t good,” said Capps, who believes his team isn’t close to its ceiling yet. “I’m okay with where we are right now.”