By Sam Spiegelman, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on February 05, 2014 7 p.m.Click here for the original article on NOLA.COM
What was once a 16-point lead for De La Salle dissipated into a two-point deficit with only seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. And a game that at one time looked over before it got started came down to a miraculous finish.
Luke Kelly sank a buzzer-beater as the clock expired to lift the Cavaliers (18-7, 4-1) to a 64-63 victory over Lusher, the teams third straight win against a District 11-3A opponent.
Lushers Jordan Smith missed a second three-throw attempt on the opposite end of the court, and with his team down two Kelly was ready to chuck up a game-winning 3.
“I knew we were down two so I went with the 3 and we got it,” said Kelly, who led the Cavs with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. “I told the guys at halftime we got to stick with it, on both sides of the ball, and play hard. Its awesome coming back.”
“Every time we play Lusher its a dog fight, and this one was no exception,” De La Salle Coach Paul Kelley said. “Our guys were disappointed in the mistakes we made to allow Lusher back into the game, but they were psychologically prepared for a dog fight, and they maintained their composure until the end.”
The Cavaliers opened the game red-hot from beyond the arc, connecting on six 3-pointers to race out to an early 16-point lead after one quarter. Just as hot was the teams defense, which limited Lusher to a host of turnovers and only three buckets.
But the Lions (15-9, 2-9) roared back in the second. Led by Jermaine Long, who had a game-high 29 points, Lusher embarked on a 14-1 run to close out the half, with De La Salle clinging to a 29-23 lead.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Kelley said. “We knew Lusher would make a run. In district (games), its going to be a competitive game.”
De La Salle entered the final quarter with a nine-point lead but had no answer for Long, who scored 10 straight points for the Lions who grabbed hold of the lead for the first time in the contest.
Up 59-58, the Cavaliers put Long at the free-throw stripe where he posted a perfect 8-of-8 mark. With under 10 seconds to go, Smith made of 1-of-2 attempts from the line, capping off a 24-point fourth quarter but it was not enough thanks to Kellys late-game heroics.
“We didnt play well in the first quarter and we dug too deep of a hole,” Lusher Coach Hunter Higgins said. “Weve had a hard time getting stops with the game on the line all season long.
“(Long) was great, but unfortunately (Kelly) was a little bit better at the end of the game.”