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Terriers survive second-half comeback vs. Helen Cox


Vandebilt Catholic's Lionheart Leslie (left) drives to the basket past Helen Cox's Maurice Henery (4) and Devyn Vaughn (back) during Tuesday's playoff game. (Photo by Benjamin Oliver Hicks/Staff)


Helen Cox's Garland Allen hit a 3-pointer as time expired in Tuesday's Class 4A boys basketball bi-regional playoff game at Vandebilt Catholic.

But the shot ended up being one point short and a little too late.

Allen scored all of his 21 points in the second half to rally Helen Cox back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit, but it wasn't enough as Vandebilt survived with a 65-64 victory at a packed Terriers gym.

Lionheart Leslie paced the Terriers with a game-high 28 points, helping No. 14 Vandebilt advance to the Class 4A regional round, where it will face No. 3 Alexandria High in Alexandria on Friday. The game time will be released today.

Bailey Pere scored 11 points for Vandebilt, while Tanner Whatley and Justen Harris each added seven points. The Terriers also got key assists, steals and blocks from players like Elijah McGuire, Gabe Huber and Malcolm Wolfe during a thrilling playoff battle between the teams.

Vandebilt coach Henry Washington said the Terriers needed the contributions of every player on their roster to pull it out against No. 19 Helen Cox.

"Everybody stepped up," Washington said. "We're trying to win it all. We're going to play our game no matter what happens. If we have to adjust, we'll adjust. They just got to do their jobs and play the way we play. That's all you can ask for."

Leslie said Vandebilt (22-6 overall) wanted to avenge a 75-54 regular season loss to Helen Cox (20-12) on Jan. 2.

"It fired us up even more," Leslie said. "We weren't losing again. We came in more determined and were ready to fight until we got the victory. This is the playoffs. This is when it really counts. We got the win, and now we're moving on and getting ready for Alexandria in the next round."

The Terriers were definitely fired up in the first half. After jumping out with a 15-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, Leslie took a pass from McGuire and nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Terriers ahead 24-15 at halftime.

But in the second half, Helen Cox stormed back with its 3-point shooting (9-of-16 in second half) and second-chance baskets. Allenscored 12 points in the third quarter to make it a 43-37 Vandebilt lead at the end of the period.

Vandebilt opened up a 10-point lead (59-49) with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter, but Helen Cox wasn't done. The Cougars used 3-pointers from Rashod Kelly, Devyn Vaughn and Dominic Magee to cut Vandebilt's lead to 61-58 with 1:48 left.

Helen Cox got a point off a free throw and looked to tie the game with 40 seconds left, but it had a costly turnover on a walking violation that kept Vandebilt's lead at 61-59.

Leslie hit 4-of-6 free throw attempts in the final seconds to extend it to 65-61, making Allen's 3-pointer at the buzzer useless for Helen Cox, who also got 18 points from Maurice Henry and 11 from Magee.

Helen Cox coach Tyron Mouzon said he expected a tough task against Vandebilt.

"Vandebilt always plays us tough," he said. "We played them in January and beat them convincingly, but we knew it would be different in playoff time. We dug ourselves into a deep hole in the first half. Once we started to calm down in the second half, we started playing with more confidence. We got back in the game. By the end, we got a couple of nice looks at the basket that could have tied it, but it just didn't fall for us."

Unlike the regular season meeting, Washington said the Terriers (4-of-11 from 3-point line, 12-for-14 free throws and 12 turnovers) ran their offense better in the playoff game.

"We handled their press better this time," Washington said. "We were trying to limit our turnovers. That's was one of our goals. They got back in it when we turned the ball over a couple of times in the fourth quarter, but Lionheart and Eli started getting to the basket, and Bailey and Justen hit a couple of big shots. That pulled us through."

Washington said Vandebilt sophomore forward Payton Barrios suffered a broken collarbone during the game and will miss the rest of the season. Barrios scored six points before falling on the ground hard during the second quarter.

Leslie said Vandebilt knows it will be underdogs against Alexandria, which beat No. 30 Karr 72-69 on Tuesday, but the senior star said the Terriers are used to proving people wrong.

"We're used to it," Leslie said. "People didn't think we were going to win this game because we got blown out earlier against Helen Cox. We're not worrying about what other people say. We're the ones playing on the court. We've just got to do what we've got to do."

CLASS 4A FIRST ROUND

NO. 10 OPELOUSAS 74, NO. 23 ELLENDER 68

At Opelousas, Ellender's Cameron Parfait poured in 27 points, but the Patriots ended their season at 15-12 overall.

Opelousas (22-8) led 22-12 after the first quarter, 42-40 at halftime and 59-52 at the end of the third quarter.

Leland Alexander added 18 points for the Patriots, and Justin Johnson had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Patriots.

CLASS 5A FIRST ROUND

NO. 10 RUSTON 77, NO. 23 H.L. BOURGEOIS 47

At Ruston, the Braves ended their season at 22-9 overall, and Ruston improved to 26-7 overall. Stats from the game were not available.

NO. 6 NEW IBERIA 58, NO. 27 SOUTH LAFOURCHE 35

At New Iberia, the Tarpons ended their season at 17-11, and their District 7-5A counterpart the Yellow Jackets improved to 24-7 overall.

New Iberia (22-of-30 from the free-throw line, 15 turnovers) got 23 points from Mike Sams and 18 points from Dillion Mandeville, and South Lafourche (11-of-20 from the free-throw line, 23 turnovers) got 16 points from Treavon Evans and 11 points from Shawn Cheramie.

— Compiled by sports writer Kelly McElroy.