The Port Allen Pelicans went toe-to-toe with the defending champion Dunham Tigers, but came out on the short end of a 72-64 game in the District 8-2A championship Saturday.
Port Allen (19-12) trailed by three heading into the fourth quarter and threatened to take the lead, but Dunham (25-5) did just enough late in the game to keep the Pelicans at bay after starting guard Tawasky Johnson fouled out at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
"I thought Dunham played as well as they could’ve possibly played when came here the first time," said Port Allen head coach Derrick Jones. "Our guys, we challenged them to come here and see what we’re capable of doing when we come in with a different mindset. I’m proud of the way we competed. I’m not big into moral victories. We’re good enough to get stuff done now. It was a great atmosphere and it’s only going to make us better."
The eight-point margin was a far cry from the first meeting between the two teams Jan. 18 that resulted in a 78-36 Dunham victory.
Eric Antoine's three helped Port Allen seize a 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Gerrod Franklin drilled a three later that gave the Pelicans a 17-11 advantage.
The Tigers responded with an 8-0 run capped by Ralph Davenport's layup that put the score at 19-17.
Dunham led 38-30 at halftime and Port Allen began to trim the deficit in the third quarter.
Johnson's layup with a little under two minutes left to play in the third quarter brought Port Allen to within one, at 46-45. Carlos Stewart's two free throws at the end of the third sent Dunham into the fourth with a 50-47 lead.
Johnson poured in 20 points to lead the Pelicans, followed by Franklin's 14 points and 12 from Marcus Joseph.
Jordan Wright had a game-high 24 for the Tigers.
"We scheduled a really hard schedule at the beginning of the year and played up because we wanted to get ready for this time of the year," Jones said. "Our goal is to play in March and if we’re playing in March, what they can take from this, we’re not playing on somebody else’s home court. We’re playing on a neutral site. This is the best team in our class. We can play with anybody."