BATON ROUGE – After witnessing the ability of Central’s offense to heat up within a short amount of time in the third quarter, Live Oak managed to douse that flame in the fourth quarter.
Guard Darian Ricard closed out on a 3-point attempt by Central’s Rylen Walker and blocked the shot at the buzzer to help Live Oak preserve a 31-28 victory Monday over their District 4-5A foe to start the second week of the Woodlawn High Summer Basketball League.
“To win that game the way we did with a stop at the end, that’s big for us,” Live Oak coach John Capps said. “I was very pleased with that. It’s the summer. There’s still a lot of things we need to clean up. But that’s a quality win. I think that’s a very good team right now.”
Senior guard Lawrence Pierre continued his torrid scoring, leading the Eagles with a game-high 20 points, providing the final score with a free throw with 39.8 seconds remaining.
Pierre scored 17 points in the second half which consists of a pair of six-minute quarters, scoring nine in the third quarter that included a pair of 3-pointers.
“Right now, we’re still trying to find our way,” Capps said of his offense which shot 30 percent (10 of 30) for the game. “Lawrence is really good. Darian will be able to score as well as some of the other guys that will eventually get there.”
The emergence of Pierre as the team’s primary scorer came at a good time for Live Oak which, after leading 16-10 at halftime, found itself in a battle once Central’s got rolling over the last five minutes of the third quarter.
Guard Juan Banks, who was scoreless in the opening half, scored nine points in the third quarter, all on 3-point baskets from the left wing, that brought Central all the way back from as much as a seven-point deficit.
Banks’ final 3-pointer of the quarter with 31 seconds left tied the game at 26-all.
“They can shoot it really well,” Capps said. “That’s a pretty good team. I told (Central) coach (Brian) Hargroder they’re a very improved team, maybe the most improved team in the district.”
Banks finished a second-chance opportunity less than a minute into the fourth quarter, not only capping a 18-6 run but providing Central with its first lead (28-26) since the two-minute mark of the first quarter.
It was the last field goal the Wildcats scored, missing their last seven shots of the game – highlighted by Ricard’s block of Walker.
Forward Ahmad Pink tied the game for Live Oak with 3:04 remaining and Pierre’s basket on a drive with 2:45 to go gave the Eagles the lead for good.
“We’re just tough right now and hopefully we can continue that,” Capps said of his team’s fourth-quarter effort. “That was more of an energy thing. I don’t think we had the same level as we did in the first half. There are any number of reasons that up. If you’re going to be player you’ve got to be a player.”