Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard breathed a sigh of relief after Friday night.
Ricard’s Pelicans came up short in a district opener against West Feliciana after a two-week holiday break,
but thawed out just in time to even its 7-3A record after a win over Baker.
“We’ve been on a little rollercoaster, and the layoff from the holidays hurt us a little bit, but things are looking pretty good now,” Ricard said.
The Pelicans (11-6, 1-1) maintain solid ground in Class 3A action with a No. 4 ranking, while 7-3A rival University High sits atop the 3A rankings compiled by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.
“We’re hustling and we’re doing all the little things, like boxing out well and rebounding well, but it seems we’re still a little rusty on the outside shots since the holiday layoff,” Ricard said. “But we still have a lot going for us.”
The Pelicans pulled from a two-point deficit in the first quarter to topple Baker in home court action Friday.
The Buffaloes, a traditionally strong squad in the Baton Rouge area, got the early advantage over the Pels with a 13-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Port Allen turned up the heat on defense by holding Baker to five points for a 26-18 lead at halftime.
The two teams battled to hold each other back in the third quarter, which ended in a 35-29 Pelican lead.
The PAHS offense picked up steam in the fourth with a 19-point output, while holding the Buffs to 12, ending the game with the Pels on top 54-41.
Ishmael Lane paced the Pelicans with 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. while Telson Allen had 10 and Nigel Allen nine. Josh Walker finished with eight.
Nick Parker scored only four, but chalked nine assists and eight rebounds.
Demetrius Fitzpatrick led Baker with 17 points. Fitzpatrick had two three-point buckets, including one at the final buzzer.
The win came three days after a sluggish Pelican third quarter squashed a two-point halftime lead and gave West Feliciana a 59-54 win in the district opener for both teams.
Port Allen led 17-14 at the end of the first quarter, but were outscored by the Saints by one in the second for a Pels 25-23 lead at the half.
The halftime advantage proved too close for comfort as the Saints turned their game up a notch and outscored the Pels 18-11 in the third stanza.
Port Allen’s 18-point rally in the fourth marked the biggest single-quarter scoring for the Pels during the game, but the same applied for WFHS, which tallied 19.
Nic Parker led port Allen with 18 points, while Ishmael Lane finished with 12. Marcus Keyes had eight.
Jazz Ferguson propelled WFHS with 22 points, while Erwin Whitaker had 17 and Nathan Jones netted 10.
The Pelicans visit Parkview Baptist on Friday.