BATON ROUGE -- Everything was going so right for the Denham Springs High boys Friday night.
Then everything went wrong.
Leading by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, the Yellow Jackets were stung in the end by Central, falling on the road in overtime 52-46 for their second straight District 4-5A loss and fourth in the last five games.
A second-chance 3-pointer by Keondre Brown capped off an explosive start for Denham Springs (10-22, 3-5 District 4-5A), which led 29-9 after Brown’s trey early in the third quarter. But the Jackets couldn’t hold back the Wildcats, who ended regulation on a 32-12 run to force an extra period.
Both teams struggled with their half-court sets in overtime as Central and Denham went a combined 2-for-8 from the floor. But the Wildcats (8-14, 2-6) drained 9-of-12 free-throw attempts against a 2-for-5 clip for the Yellow Jackets, who finished the night 15-of-29 from the stripe.
“I didn’t think we played very well,” DSHS coach Kevin Caballero said. “I thought we played well in the second quarter. I think we got a little timid in the third quarter. (Central) threw in some shots and was a little better than us (Friday).”
Turnovers were another source of frustration for Caballero, who watched his team commit 23 that resulted in 16 points for the Wildcats.
The Yellow Jackets coughed the ball up eight times in the first quarter while building a slim 10-7 lead. They cleaned up their act up in the second quarter, turning it over just twice while knocking down 5-of-7 field goals for a 26-9 cushion at the break.
But after outscoring Central 16-2 in the second quarter, Denham imploded.
The Jackets turned the ball over 13 times in the third and fourth quarters as the Wildcats surged back, turning a 20-point deficit into a 37-35 lead with 3:02 left in regulation.
Brown knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game, but Zak Kingham stole the ball at halfcourt and took it down for a layup to put Central back on top.
DSHS guard Micah Banks’ three-point play with 33.4 seconds left gave the Jackets a 40-39 lead, but again Central responded, getting two free throws from Kingham to put the home team back up 41-40.
Kolby Brooks, who along with Kaleb Drummer and Banks scored a team-high 9 points, had a chance to win the game for Denham in regulation, but the forward went 1-of-2 at the line with 11.4 seconds left, ultimately sending the game to overtime.
The Wildcats outscored the Jackets 11-5 in the extra session with most of that coming from the free-throw line, a place that was kind to Central after halftime. The Cats went 17-for-24 from the stripe in the second half and overtime after not attempting a single one before halftime.
Central’s turnover-creating defense and combined with its efficiency at the foul line was enough to overcome a rough shooting night from the field (15-of-44). Conversely, the Jackets’ struggles with turnovers and free throws cancelled out a red-hot 51.8% shooting clip from the field (14-27).
Sometimes it takes more than shooting to win tough district games between familiar foes.
“When you play on the road in a district game, it’s going to be a battle,” Caballero said. “I thought that in the first half we did what we were supposed to do after we cleaned up those turnovers. I thought the third quarter we had some opportunities that, either because of a missed shot or a turnover, we didn’t capitalize on.
“There was disappointment. We’ve set some standards that we wanted to meet. This is going to be a little setback. We’ll get back at it Sunday afternoon and try to get ready for Walker.”
The Jackets close out their home season at 7 p.m. Tuesday when the Wildcats come to Grady Hornsby Gym.
CENTRAL 52, DSHS 46 (OT)
DSHS 10 16 6 9 5 -- 46
Central 7 2 18 14 11 -- 52
DSHS (46) -- Kaleb Drummer 3-4 2-3 9, Kolby Brooks 4-5 1-2 9, Micah Banks 2-4 4-5 9, Keondre Brown 2-6 2-6 7, Ray Whitley 1-4 3-5 5, Dorsett Washington 1-3 2-4 4, Tyler Hoover 1-1 0-0 2, D.J. Williams 0-0 1-1 1. Totals 14-27 15-29 46.
Central (52) -- Zak Kingham 4-12 4-7 12, Landon Thames 4-7 0-0 11, Grayson Cox 2-6 4-6 9, Quint Guerin 1-6 4-4 7, Todd Lasseigne 2-4 0-0 4, Hunter Arnold 1-2 2-2 4, Carlos Wilkerson 1-4 2-2 4, D. Franklin 0-0 1-2 1, Joshua Herbert 0-3 0-0 0, Jeffrey Campbell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-44 17-24 52.
3-point goals -- DSHS 3-9 (Brown 1-2, Drummer 1-2, Banks 1-3, Whitley 0-2); Central 5-17 (Thames 3-6, Guerin 1-4, Cox 1-4, Herbet 0-2, Kingham 0-1). Records: DSHS 10-22, 3-5 District 4-5A; Central 8-14, 2-6. Up next: Walker at DSHS, 7 p.m. Tuesday; Central at Zachary, 7 p.m. Tuesday.