Live Oak coach John Capps liked the direction of Friday’s Class 5A state bi-district playoff game at Slidell.
For about the first 1 ½ quarters.
That’s about the time No. 14 Slidell began its comeback from a 16-point deficit, trailed by four at halftime before catching and overtaking No. 19 Live Oak in the second half for a 70-56 victory to eliminate the Eagles from the playoffs.
“We executed a game plan as well as we have all year for about 14 minutes,” Capps said.
Live Oak (17-15) led 13-6 after the first quarter and extended that margin to 30-14 midway through the second quarter.
The Eagles, who forced turnovers in the opening quarter, were able to limit the Tigers’ offense with tough defense from Bryan and Vince Bayonne.
Bryan Bayonne also scored eight of his 10 points in the opening half.
“We controlled the pace and were in great shape,” Capps said. “I thought Vince and Bryan played one of their better defensive games and really did a great job on the inside. We had a chance. At times things don’t break your way.”
Slidell (25-8), which won for the 14th time in its last 15 games, answered with a 14-2 run behind eight points from Tylor Harris, who finished with four 3-pointers and 16 points.
Capps said one of the turning points took place at the end of the third quarter when Slidell’s back-up center banked in a 3-pointer from beyond 30 feet, giving the Tigers a 50-43 lead.
“Then we had to press and fouled,” Capps said.
Slidell wound up outscoring Live Oak 42-24 in the second half with Kolby Warren scoring 17 of his 19 points during that span.
Harris’ layup gave the Tigers their first lead at 35-34 midway through the third quarter – the first since they were up 2-0 – and limited Live Oak on the offensive end where they turned the ball over 11 times in the second half.
Warren scored 10 points during the fourth quarter and was a big part of Slidell’s 12-2 run that stretched the lead, never allowing Live Oak to get any closer than 8 to 10 points, Capps said.
Lawrence Pierre led the Eagles with 16 – knocking down three 3-pointers – while Halen Cox made three 3-pointers for 13, including seven during the fourth quarter, and DaDa Capling added 12.
“The final score wasn’t indicative of how close the game was,” Capps said. “We gave a great effort. I was proud of the way we prepared. Things didn’t break our way at key moments, but we battled. I just hate it for our seniors.
“They answered every time,” Capps said of Slidell. “They had 12 guys that were good, and we played seven. They had some guys that once they hit some shots, they got rolling and we couldn’t stop them. We were in position (30-14 first-half lead), we relaxed, and they hit some shots. Hopefully it’s a learning experience for some of the younger guys and we’ll go from there.”