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|Ferriday falls in state finals|
Ferriday High's boys basketball team came within a game of winning its third state championship as the Trojans fell to defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas 61-52 Saturday at the Cajundome in Lafayette.
Ferriday led St. Thomas Aquinas by one point late with 32 seconds remaining in the third period before Thaddeus Showers grabbed a defensive rebound and went the length of the court, converting a layup to give the Falcons the lead for good.
"I guarantee you there were a lot of 2A schools not in the tournament who would have traded places with us and would have liked to have brought home that runner-up trophy," said Ferriday High boys coach K.G. Watkins. "Our guys played exceptionally well all season and one game doesn't make a season. I believe if we played them seven times, we would win five of those games."
Showers, who was named Outstanding Player of the game, finished with 19 points and four rebounds.
Ferriday trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, trailing 27-14 with 3:10 remaining before halftime.
Alrion McKeel hit two 3-pointers for the Trojans to pull Ferriday to within five points by halftime.
"We went into the locker room and I told the kids we were right where I wanted to be," Watkins said. "All of our games this season, we played better in the second half."
Montrell Tennessee put back in an offensive rebound to put the Trojans up 38-37 late in the third quarter.
St. Thomas Aquinas led 43-38 with six minutes remaining before Josh Upchurch pulled Ferriday to within three. But Zaveral Jackson hit a 3-pointer to put the Falcons up 46-40 with five minutes remaining.
McKeel hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining to pull Ferriday to within four, but that would be as close as the Trojans would get.
"Every time we made that run, they would come up with a big bucket," Watkins said. "We just couldn't get over that hump. But it wasn't because of lack of effort. The kids played hard. All four seniors wanted to win so bad. I think at one point they looked at the clock going down and panicked a little bit. We rushed a few shots and didn't get some loose balls we usually get. We had too many nerves going at the end."
Tennessee led Ferriday with 17 points, while McKeel added 11 and Matthew Smith 10.
Ferriday High finished its season at 26-8.
Ferriday senior Matthew Smith sank a free throw with 3.2 seconds remaining to give the Trojans a 65-64 win over Lakeside of Sibley and a spot in the Class 2A state championship game at the Louisiana-Lafayette Cajundome.
It was the second straight game Smith hit crucial free throws, making two in the final seconds against Episcopal to seal a win to reach the Top 28.
Lakeside actually had the ball with less than a minute remaining with the game tied at 64-64.
But Warrior senior guard Demarcus Taylor lost the ball out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining, giving the Trojans the chance for the win.
"We went to a man-to-man zone and put a person on Taylor," Watkins said. 'He made a move and fortunately he mishandled the ball."
Smith brought the ball down the court and was harassed by Taylor, taking a few bumps before a foul was called with 3.3 seconds remaining.
"I know the officials did not want to be the deciding factor and didn't want to blow a quick whistle," Watkins said. "But they finally called it."
Smith made the second free throw to give Ferriday the lead.
"He stepped up like a senior on that one."
Lakeside's Marlon McDaniel then missed a 3-pointer that was partially blocked by Demarco Lewis and the Trojans were in the championship game.
"We knew they would get the ball to 25 (McDaniel) and Demarco just got a fingertip on it enough that it hit the rim," Watkins said. "If he would not have gotten a little bit of the ball we would have lost the game."
After a first half against Episcopal in the quarterfinals that saw both teams total 24 points, Lakeside led Ferriday 19-16 after one period of play before the Trojans outscored the Warriors 17-11 in the second period for a 33-30 advantage.
Lakeside cut that lead to 51-49 going into the final quarter.
Montrell Tennessee led Ferriday with 21 points, while Smith added 14 and Alrion McKeel scored 12 off the bench.
Taylor led Lakeside with 28 points before fouling out.
"We just couldn't seem to get acclimated to the goals down there," Watkins said. "We brought the guys in early to shoot around and concentrated on defense early because that is our strong suit. We didn't shoot our free throws well in the first game and I think that put a mindset in the guys minds going into the championship game that the rims were tight. They just couldn't get relaxed."
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