No. 2 Pelicans edge Comets

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Sports Editor

For the second time in District 9-3A play this season, St. Charles was able to overcome a late deficit to close the gap on a highly touted team on the road. But for the second time, the Comets fell just short.

St. Charles overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to trail host Port Allen by two with a minute left. But the potential tying shot of the Comets’ Birch Matus wouldn’t go down, and the Pelicans were able to make their foul shots down the stretch to emerge with a 57-52 victory on Friday night.

It was the ninth straight win for Port Allen (24-2, 3-0), who is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A.

“I was real encouraged,” said St. Charles Coach Jonathan Hernandez. “Our kids went in there against a team that carries a lot of hype like Port Allen, and had the mindset that we can play with these guys if we execute our gameplan.”

Damien Dixon led Port Allen with 18 points. William Nelson scored 16.

DeMarcus Bernard scored 18 to lead St. Charles (14-14, 1-2). Zack Goodwin added 14.

Port Allen led 33-21 at halftime, and maintained that lead through the third quarter.

But in the fourth quarter, St. Charles made their push.

“We got away from our plan in the first half, got caught up in what they were trying to do,” said Hernandez. “We stuck to what we knew we had to do in the second half, and we ended up outscoring them by seven.”

That game plan involved something Hernandez has preached since before the beginning of district play – controlling time of possession, playing good defense and keeping the score low, in the 40s if at all possible.

“As long as we have the ball and they don’t, it’s a good thing for us,” said Hernandez. “ We wanted them to waste energy having to defend us for long possessions.

“The score got away from us a bit, but if we can do it for four quarters next time, I think we have a good shot.”

St. Charles has an uphill climb ahead of it to regain footing in district play, with three other powerful teams to contend with.

But St. Charles has been in position to win each game that it’s lost late, and could easily be 3-0.

That, and his team’s commitment to doing the “little things” Hernandez says are crucial to winning games, has the coach optimistic about the stretch run.

“The hardest thing right now is trying to convince the kids that 1-2 isn’t a deep hole. You can easily dig yourself out of it,” he said. “If we maintain focus and keep plugging away, we’re still very much alive.”