Experience gives visiting Bulldogs a four-point edge in a top-ten district hoop battle with Tigers

Staff reports
KEEP-A-WAY…East Iberville High’s Javon’te Sherman keeps the round ball away from the WCHS defense as Bulldog mentor Ronald Johnson (background) alerts his players not to foul. White Castle rallied to win in the second half of the top-ten teams’ District 8-A hoop game Friday in St. Gabriel.

White Castle High’s Bulldogs stepped on to the East Iberville High basketball court with a big edge in regular and state playoff experience and it proved just four-points enough to give the visitors a four-point edge in the two parish teams’ initial District 8-A meeting of the hoop season.

A hot-shooting and quick number two-ranked hosting EIHS Tiger hoop club took a 28-23 halftime lead, but the number seven-ranked Bulldogs battled back in the second half to eventually forge a 67-63 victory in a 8-A contest cut short by a fight in the packed stands with seventeen seconds remaining in the game.

It had been two decades since both Iberville Parish boys’ basketball clubs had both been ranked in the top ten in Class 1-A round ball and the first time over that time period that East was higher in the rankings in the early season. With such a profound situation at hand, fans came out in droves from both sides of the Mississippi and in both school colors.

One Tiger fan was heard before tip-off noting: “We have been waiting for this rematch since we realized Coach (Doug) Schultz had some outstanding young players from summer ball!”

The game packed the Tiger gym to capacity and utterly frustrated the game’s head referee, who refused to begin the game until fans moved off the walls behind the baseline of the court. The end result of such a mix of Tiger-Bulldog fans in close proximity finally created ill feelings and the quick exit of a pair of young ruffians from the gym. Talk was to clear the gym for the final seconds of the contest, but Parish School Superintendent Edward Cancienne was in attendance and he advised to end the game at that point. The coaches agreed and WCHS claimed the 67-63 victory with maybe a couple of possessions left to be played.

On the positive side of the game’s importance was it drew a “celebrity” crowd of well-known parish sports people and Baton Rouge media. Along with Cancienne were several current and former school board members, parish athletic directors John Bueche and Bob Howell, former St. John High basketball coach Daniel Newman, former Sunshine/East Iberville long time hoop coach Robert Grace Sr., Plaquemine High assistant hoop mentor Donald Ray Johnson, former St. John/UNO and current Southern University baseball standout Rodarick Jones, and numerous former Bulldog and Tiger basketball greats.

The game provided to be an electric event from midway into the WCHS-EIHS girls’ game to the very abrupt end to the huge varsity boys’ encounter.

East opened the game by showing its outstanding, young talent and outside shooting ability. While WCHS had a big edge in experienced players in veterans Ronald Martin, Daniel and Quadry Allen, Randy Foster, Isaac O’Bear, and Damarius Wesley, the Tigers countered with the senior duo of Greg Pickett and Andre Wright to go with a young and exciting lineup of quick-reacting and slick-shooting Darryl Ingram, Jarrod Redditt, Frank Broussard, Byron Clark, Richard Johnson, and Javon’te Sherman.

The Tigers ended up bagging a handful of first-half three-point baskets and frustrated a number of athletic drives by the Bulldogs to the hoop. The two teams battled to a 19-all tie at the end of a fast and furious first quarter in which Redditt led the Tiger offense with his outside shooting and WCHS’ Foster, Martin, and Daniel Allen frustrated with skilled and athletic drives to the inside.

Defense ruled in the second quarter as both teams settled down to recognize the other clubs’ offensive throws. White Castle actually went ice cold, hitting only one of ten shot attempts in the quarter, while the Tigers managed to take a narrow edge 9-4 in the period.

The second half opened and Ingram, a transfer and former frosh starter at Episcopal High BR, and Redditt got hot from the outside for the Tigers. EIHS stalked a quick nine-point lead and Martin and O’Bear were forced to the bench with fouls. With the two state football championship football players on the bench, Coach Ronald Johnson relied on the two Allens and Foster to get the Bulldogs back in the contest. And they did just that. The two Allens, key guards in the WC offensive-defensive scheme, played steady round ball, while Foster became a force on the inside against the shorter Tiger lineup, which was missing Pickett due to four fouls. When the third period ended, East led by a mere point, 45-44.

The rest of the game belonged to the visiting Bulldogs. Foster led the way with a trio of huge baskets and free throws. The free throw line shooting went the way of the Bulldogs, where they finished with 18 points, while the Tigers managed only 11 free buckets.

Foster and Redditt finished dead even as the game’s leading scorers. Both bagged 22 points, Foster on drives to the inside and Redditt boosted by a fine four-basket effort on three-point shots. The difference came with the shooting of WC’s Allen duo. Daniel Allen netted 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Quadry Allen tallied 9 points on a trio of long-range bombs that helped the Bulldogs keep pace with the Tiger outside shooting. Tiger point guard Ingram and senior inside player Wright both hit for 12 for the hosts, while Pickett, the club’s leading scorer, was held to 7 points due to his efforts to keep WC’s Foster and Martin off the boards. Broussard finished with 7, while Clark added three and Johnson a pair. Sherman also played well for the Tigers in a reserve role. Backing Foster and the Allens for the Bulldogs were Wesley with 7, Martin with 6, O’Bear with 5, and 6-4 sophomore center Shawn Williams with 2 points. Their combined effort was enough to help the Bulldogs maintain the four-point advantage.

After the narrow road victory, Coach Johnson created his team for hustle and desire, while Coach Schultz looked to the future return meeting of the local powers when the Tigers travel to White Castle in a couple of weeks. Schultz pointed to the fact both teams were 3-1 in district and still faced a lot more district basketball especially with Christian Life leading league play with a 3-0 mark.

The number two-ranked Tigers slipped to a still impressive 15-3 record, while White Castle moved to 14-8 overall.