Bulldogs edge Comets, 44-42
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 18, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
As St. Charles’ Vincent Rollo’s last-second halfcourt shot went halfway down before rimming out, it was a microcosm of the Comets’ emotions on Tuesday night – going from almost certain defeat, to an improbable victory, to a heartbreaking loss.
But while St. Charles did not earn a district victory at Lutcher on Tuesday, the team surely earned the respect of a rival expected not only to contend for the District 9-3A title, but also in the state playoffs.
The Comets erased a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to lead by two late in regulation. But Lutcher was able to recapture the lead with under a minute left and escape with a 44-42 victory in their district opener.
Rollo’s shot came after an inbounds play with 1.9 seconds left. He could only advance the ball to halfcourt quickly before launching a shot at the basket – one that momentarily silenced Lutcher’s packed gym as it danced around the rim.
“I thought it was in, I really did,” said Rollo. “It was halfway down. I just tried to get a good shot off.”
“Lutcher’s got one of the best team’s in the state,” Rollo continued. “It’s a real good learning experience for us. We know we can play with anyone.”
Lutcher (10-6, 1-0) led 31-25 entering the fourth quarter, and a 6-0 run to start the period appeared to sink St. Charles’ chances.
But a technical foul on the Bulldogs would be the catalyst for a major St. Charles (13-13, 0-1) run. DeMarcus Bernard sank two foul shots, then Birch Matus converted a basket to effectively earn a four-point possession for the Comets, making it 37-29.
Rollo sank a 3-pointer on the next possession to cut the Lutcher advantage to 37-32.
The Bulldogs’ Charles Gant made a foul shot on the other end, but it would not break the Comet rhythm. St. Charles’ Gabe Corchiani scored and drew a foul to make it 38-34. He missed the ensuing foul shot, but Rollo rebounded it and made a layup to suddenly cut the deficit to two, 38-36.
After a stop, Rollo hit a 3-pointer from the wing to give St. Charles a 39-38 lead, its first since the second quarter.
Jontrae Cage scored for Lutcher to recapture the lead for the Bulldogs.
But St. Charles would get out in transition soon after, and Rollo pulled up for a 3-pointer that gave St. Charles a 42-40 lead, as the Comet fans in attendance exploded.
Cage hit a foul shot to pull his team within one, 42-41. With 1:58 left, Lutcher was called for offensive goaltending. On the Bulldogs’ next possession, they were whistled for a charge.
But the Comets’ missed two opportunities to extend the lead from the line in the final minute, as Rollo and Bernard each missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Lutcher’s Jarvis Landry hit a driving layup to give Lutcher a 43-42 lead. St. Charles got the ball to Bernard on an outlet pass immediately following the basket, but his shot attempt fell short with 4.8 seconds left.
Lutcher’s Frederick Thomas hit one of his two foul shots once St. Charles had to foul. Corchiani gathered the rebound on the miss with 1.9 seconds left, setting up Rollo’s final shot attempt.
“I’m proud of the team,” said St. Charles assistant coach George McGovern. “We came in with a good plan, and we were right there at the end. People underestimate us, and the kids came out to prove something.”
Thomas led Lutcher with 15 points. Gant added 10, and Dexter McCoil scored seven.
For St. Charles, Rollo led the way with 14. Matus scored 11, and Bernard added 10.