HOLDEN - A splendid second half for Live Oak turned even more enjoyable in the final minute of Tuesday’s opening-round matchup with French Settlement in the Livingston Parish Basketball Tournament.
That’s where the fourth-seeded Eagles, already holding a 19-point lead, watched reserve senior forward Gabe Kimble can a 3-pointer from the corner – in front of his own bench that exploded in celebration – and reserve guard Bryce Lemoine added another 3-pointer in a 67-47 victory over the fifth-seeded Lions at Holden High School.
“Everybody loves Gabe,” Live Oak coach John Capps explained. “He played with us as a freshman, was a good player and then had a high ankle sprain and that was it. He played football (linebacker) for three years and came to us last year, even with a torn ACL, and wanted to play this year. They asked me in the locker room if we got up big that I had to put Gabe in.”
Live Oak (3-4) won its third straight game since an 0-4 start and doesn’t return until Friday’s semifinal at 7:30 p.m. to face the Walker-Albany winner.
“We were a little rusty from football and went 0-4,” Live Oak senior Amar Pink said. “Then we got that first win and we said we had to keep winning. We came in here and had to work.”
Said Live Oak coach John Capps: “That’s win No. 3 in a row. We’re getting there. I like our team.”
Live Oak senior guard Lawrence Pierre scored 14 of his team-high 18 points, Pink added 12 and guard Byron Smith 9.
The Eagles were locked in a tense 13-13 tie after the first quarter and only held a 21-17 lead with just under four minutes until halftime when they switched from a 2-3 zone to a man-to-man defense and utilized full-court pressure.
French Settlement (4-3) turned the ball over five times in the second quarter and was limited to just 1-of-7 shooting, falling behind 31-21 at halftime.
“When they switched to the man-to-man and went full-court our youth showed,” French Settlement coach Jake Bourgeois said. “We have two sophomore ball handlers and one senior. They’re physical, fast and athletic and those are the teams we’ve been struggling with here lately.”
Amar Pink’s free throws and a 3-pointer from Smith keyed a 9-2 spurt in the final three minutes of the second quarter that also included Pierre, who scored on a driving layup, also fed a trailing Smith for another basket.
Live Oak was just starting to heat up.
The Eagles went on a devastating 18-0 run – a five-plus minute stretch to open the third quarter – where they took a commanding 49-21 advantage until Cedric Witkowski finally stopped the surge at the 2:07 mark.
Five different players contributed during the best minutes for Live Oak, which forced 13 turnovers, with Pink, Pierre and C.J. Davis all scoring four points and Josh Watson capping the run with a second-chance basket.
That also put the finishing touches on a stretch in which Live Oak outscored French Settlement 28-4 over an eight-minute period that bridged the second and third quarters.
Dammian Capling’s put back with nine seconds gave the Eagles a 53-25 lead after three quarters.
“We haven’t been a great pressure team yet, but I know pressure had given them trouble this year,” Capps said. “So, we went to it and I was pleasantly surprised with how it worked out. That’s not something we can do all the time. It’s something we need to have in case we need to pull it out.”
Witkowski, who opened with six points in the first quarter, led all scorers with 22 points and Jonas LeBourgeois added 12 for the Lions, who shot 33% (15 of 46) and finished with 23 turnovers.
“I chewed them out a little bit and told them to keep their heads up and to learn from it,” said Bourgeois, whose team faces Maurepas in consolation action at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. “We can only get better from it by playing teams like Live Oak. Our ultimate goal is to get ready for district; be better than we are now.”
35th Annual Livingston Parish Tournament
At Holden High School
Springfield 47, Maurepas 22
Albany 78, Maurepas 7
Holden 57 French Settlement 48
Live Oak 67, French Settlement 47
3:00 p.m. – Albany vs. Walker (Girls)
4:30 p.m. – Springfield vs. Doyle (Boys)
6:00 p.m. – Live Oak vs. Denham Springs (Girls)
7:30 p.m. – Denham Springs vs. Holden (Boys)
3:00 p.m. –Maurepas vs. French Settlement (Girls)
4:30 p.m. – Maurepas vs. French Settlement (Boys)
6:00 p.m. – Doyle vs. Springfield (Girls)
7:30 p.m. – Walker vs. Albany (Boys)
3:00 p.m. – Albany/Walker winner vs. Denham Springs/Live Oak winner (Girls)
4:30 p.m. – Denham Springs/Holden winner vs. Doyle/Springfield winner (Boys)
6:00 p.m. – Doyle/Springfield winner vs. Holden winner (Girls)
7:30 p.m. – Walker/Albany/Maurepas winner vs. Live Oak (Boys)
9:00 a.m. – Albany/Walker loser vs. Denham Springs/Live Oak loser (Girls)
12:00 p.m. – Girls consolation championship
1:30 p.m. – Boys consolation championship
3:00 p.m. – Girls Third place game
4:30 p.m. – Boys Third place game
6:00 p.m. – Girls championship game
7:30 p.m. – Boys championship game