Ellender falls in 4A State Title Game

Colonels open Southland will series win
March 15, 2017
Watered down … I don’t care!
March 15, 2017
Colonels open Southland will series win
March 15, 2017
Watered down … I don’t care!
March 15, 2017

It was one of the best games in the 2016-17 high school basketball season – if not in the history of prep basketball in the Houma-Thibodaux area. It was a back and forth war between Class 4A titans.

It featured lead changes, big shots, slam dunks in traffic and loads of drama. It was watched by a sold out crowd in the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles – a loud, rowdy group of fans which made the place sound like a rock concert throughout the game.

The Class 4A State Championship Game was one fans will remember for a long, long time. But for prep basketball fans on the East Side of Houma, the memory will probably be focused less on the 32 minutes of beautiful basketball on the floor and more on what might have been.

Washington Marion beat Ellender 66-58 on Saturday afternoon – a score that doesn’t depict how close the game actually was, because of late-game fouls and free throws.

Ellender trailed by nine after three quarters, but went on a quick fourth quarter surge to take the lead, even into the final minute of the game.

But the Charging Indians pulled away late, taking back control of the scoreboard and ending the Patriots season one win short of the state title.

“It was tough. That’s never how you want it all to end,” Ellender coach Cornell Scott said. “We did a lot of good things. We did a lot of bad things. We fought. We battled. In the end, they just did some things right in the final stages that allowed them to get the victory. I’m extremely proud of our kids.”

For 90 minutes on Saturday, the Burton Coliseum on the campus of McNeese State University felt like a basketball Mecca, as the two teams on the floor put on an absolute show.

Washington Marion overcame an early double-digit deficit and led 29-26 at halftime, then rolled to a 44-35 lead after three quarters, which had many thinking the fourth quarter would end in a Charging Indians blowout.

But the opposite happened, and the fourth quarter was compelling theatre.

Ellender rushed back furiously, generating steals and transition points to cut the lead throughout the quarter, eventually tying the game at 52 with just more than two minutes to play.

The highest drama of the game came in the final 90 seconds.

Down 57-55, senior Davontavean Martin penetrated the lane and kicked the ball to junior guard Marquie Mosely in the corner.

Mosely buried a 3-pointer, which gave Ellender a 58-57 lead with just more than a minute to go.

In the Charging Indians next possession, they struggled to break the press, but got a bit lucky. After nearly having the ball stolen several times, Washington Marion found guard DeMarcus Vital wide open in the corner for a 3, which he buried to send the crowd into a frenzy, giving his team a 60-58 possession.

After empty possessions and made free throws, the Charging Indians were celebrating their victory just minutes later.

“We fought,” Washington Marion coach Albert Hartwell said. “We’re happy to be at this point. It was an incredible game. Ellender is a quality high school basketball team, and this was a really loud crowd and a really loud setting. We found a way to finish it and get the championship at the end, and we are extremely happy, excited and proud for that.”

Ellender controlled the action early in the game, stymying Washington Marion’s offense with pressure defense, which set up some quick offense for the Patriots’ offense.

Ellender led 17-7 after the first quarter, thanks to several deep 3-pointers from junior guard Marquie Mosely, who led all scorers with 21 points.

In Thursday’s Semifinal game against Westgate, Mosely struggled, but in the Championship Game, he found his stroke, sinking five shots from downtown.

“I just wanted to stay confident and aggressive,” Mosely said. “I just played the way I knew I could.”

But in the second and third quarters, the Charging Indians settled down, which set the stage for the high drama in the final minutes and one of the best endings to a game in recent memory at the Top 28.

The game ends the storied career of Martin, which finished his high school career with 17 points and 9 rebounds.

This season also marks the final games for seniors Wilfred Sophrus, Richard Green and Domonique Wilson – players who left an impact on the Patriots program, according to Scott.

He said he’s proud of his entire team, and will urge the underclassmen to get the team back to Lake Charles in the future.

“I am so proud of those guys,” Scott said. “We accomplished a lot this season. We played in a wild crowd and it just didn’t go our way at the end. But we’re so proud of those kids, because they never stopped battling. … They never gave up.”

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