DENHAM SPRINGS – Given the team’s slide since the calendar flipped to 2020, the fact that Denham Spring completely lost the handle on a 10-point, second-quarter lead in Tuesday’s home game could have been a worrisome development.
Instead the Yellow Jackets regrouped, snapped a tie early in the fourth quarter and finished with quite a closing kick.
Jordan Reems’ 3-pointer with 5:35 remaining broke a 38-all tie, added a put back to set Denham Springs on its way which turned into a 59-50 victory over Dutchtown after solid free throw shooting down the stretch.
“We kept our heads up and stayed positive,” Denham Springs’ Kyle Williams, the team’s lone senior. “We didn’t hold our heads down or pouted. They had a run, but we stayed calm and pulled out the win.”
Williams, who came off the bench, was part of a balanced scoring effort for Denham Springs (10-12) with 14 points along with point guard T.J. Magee. Reams had 13, Elijah Gilmore nine and JaBarry Fortenberry seven.
The Yellow Jackets, which had lost three of their last four and two straight, shot 50% (13 of 26) in the second half and wound up shooting 41% (22 of 54) for the game.
Troy Thomas of Dutchtown led all scorers with 30 points.
“We’re learning a little bit every game,” Denham Springs coach Kevin Caballero said. “We’re playing four sophomores and we have one senior out there and I thought he really had a lot of energy and gave us a spark early. I was happy they did fight back and something good happened for them.”
Denham Springs, which struggled for most of the opening quarter and trailed 9-7, caught fire and built as much as a 24-13 lead on the strength of a 10-0 run with 1:31 left before halftime.
Gilmore scored five straight points to ignite his team’s surge, followed by a three-point play from Williams and four consecutive points from Reams, including a three-point play in transition following an assist from Magee.
“Kyle came out and gave me an effort I hadn’t seen since he got here,” Caballero said of the Capitol transfer. “As a senior we’re going to need a little leadership.”
Williams scored seven points in the third quarter, including a fastbreak basket to beat Dutchtown’s full-court pressure that enabled Denham Springs to maintain a 37-27 advantage with less than two minutes remaining.
Thomas scored the last five points of the quarter, later added a 3-pointer in the first minute of the fourth quarter and finished a driving layup that tied the game at 37-37 with 6:41 to play.
Both teams traded free throws when Reams snared Magee’s pass coming off a screen to make his team’s only 3-pointer of the game. Although he was unable to complete the four-point play after being fouled, the Yellow Jackets never trailed again.
Denham Springs stretched its lead back out to nine points after an 8-0 run with four different players scoring and the Jackets were able to put the game away in the last 47 seconds with 9-of-14 shooting from the free throw line.
“I thought everybody rebounded defensively,” Caballero said. “I thought we competed pretty well. It wasn’t pretty all the time. At times we got block calls that maybe were charges, but at least they were out there trying to take them and trying to win.”
Said Williams: “It was a big win for us. We went into a slump for a while. This win will be a positive for us.”