Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2008


Sports Editor

With his team down two, and with only 0.7 seconds on the game clock, Lutcher’s Blaine Gauthier found himself wide open, leading to gasps on both sides of the court —one in dread, the other in anticipation.

Moments later, he was beside himself, seemingly in disbelief of what had just transpired.

His deep, miraculous 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Bulldogs to a 45-44 win over rival St. Charles in a District 9-3A playoff game – and lifted the Bulldogs fans out of their seats and onto the court in a mad rush.

Even if Gauthier couldn’t believe it, it was the belief of his teammates, he says, that inspired him on the final play.

“My teammates kept saying in the huddle, let Blaine take it, let Blaine take the shot,” said Gauthier. “It gave me so much confidence, that I knew it had to go in.”

At the time, the win gave Lutcher (15-12, 4-5) hope that it could make the postseason – it locked up third place in District 9-3A, making the team eligible for a wildcard.

Those hopes didn’t materialize on Wednesday, as only Port Allen and Plaquemine qualified from 9-3A.

But Gauthier’s shot gave Lutcher the final nod over a Comets team that only moments earlier seemed to have made all the plays it needed make to win.

The Comets’ Vincent Rollo had just made desperation, one-handed jumper over two defenders to give St. Charles a 44-42 lead with 1.9 seconds left in regulation.

After a timeout, Lutcher inbounded the ball with a heave down the court – and caught a break when the ball was ruled to be deflected off of a St. Charles (16-17, 3-6) player.

With 0.7 left, and the ball advanced up the court, Lutcher Coach Troy Green had to find a play to simply give his team a chance. It worked to perfection.

“We used to run that play long ago. We set two double screens, and he was left wide open,” Green said.

All St. Charles Coach Jonathan Hernandez could do was credit Gauthier for making a tough shot under pressure.

“We wanted to switch on the screen, and we got caught behind on the double screen,” he said. “He caught that sucker five feet back of the 3-point line. He made a real tough shot, I can’t say enough about it.”

Frederick Thomas led Lutcher with 18 points. Terrick Jackson scored 11. Gauthier ended with three — the game winner represented his first and only points of the game.

DeMarcus Bernard led St. Charles with 14. Rollo scored 12, and Zachary Goodwin added eight.

The final exchange of baskets between the team was somewhat of a microcosm for the entire game. Neither team led by more than six at any point.

The first half was a low scoring affair that saw Lutcher take a 19-16 lead into halftime.

St. Charles took its first lead of the second half 20 seconds into the fourth quarter, where a Rollo 3 put SCC ahead 33-32. From there, neither team could shake the other.

Lutcher’s Demone Coco made one of two foul shots to draw his team to a tie, 42-42, with a little over a minute left. After an offense foul by Bernard, Lutcher got the ball back with under a minute and was holding for the last shot.

But Goodwin tied the ball up to force a jump ball with 15 seconds left, setting up Rollo’s shot for SCC.

    In the end, Hernandez felt he could ask nothing more from his team after a brutal district schedule.

    “I told them that in every game, we were outmatched in some way,” said Hernandez. “A team would be bigger, quicker, stronger, faster.

    “These kids came to compete night in, and night out. They never allowed anyone to take advantage of them. They played their butts off and their hearts out.”