WATSON – After Live Oak got off to one of the worst shooting starts imaginable, the Eagles leaned on their experience for a come-from-behind 52-43 victory Tuesday over St. Michael the Archangel.
The Eagles (1-4) opened the game incredibly cold from the field, netting just four points in the opening quarter, trailed 27-15 at halftime before finding their groove in the third.
“This is a different group, and they’re not used to a lot of these guys scoring,” Live Oak coach John Capps said. “Besides Lawrence (Pierre), and they tried to take Lawrence away, so we had to learn how to adjust. Those guys are seniors and juniors, but they’re not experienced seniors and juniors aside from Lawrence and Darian (Ricard).”
Pierre said his team simply went cold from the field.
“Our shots weren’t falling, and we weren’t in the right places on defense,” he said. “That’s all there is.”
But Live Oak came out in the third and flipped the script, dropping 21 points in the third quarter to take the lead and another 16 in the fourth to salt it away.
Conversely, the Eagles held the Warriors (3-2) to just five points in the third and 11 in the fourth.
“I’m so proud of the way we played in the second half,” Capps said. “It wasn’t that we didn’t play hard in the first half, we played okay on defense, they didn’t score a ton. It was just that on offense we were looking for an identity. So, in the second half I thought we adjusted and learned to play a little better.”
Capps said it all had to do with their experienced leaders stepping up when the team needed them the most. Pierre carried the brunt of that load, leading the Eagles with 24 points, 12 of which came in the third. Ricard finished second in scoring with 13 points.
“We just told the guys to shoot the ball with confidence, and not being scared of the moment or letting the moment get too big,” Pierre said.
When Live Oak was trying to survive the last-gasp press attack from Warriors, Capps could easily be heard speaking directly to Pierre and Ricard, urging them to step up and lead the team.
“Lawrence, first off has done a great job of being a leader from this summer on,” Capps said. “Can’t say enough about him. But what I was telling them is that two guys have won games. Those two guys have played a lot over the past two years. They need to make sure the guide those other guys. They led us to this victory with their guidance.”
Pierre commended the play of his teammates to compensate for his own slow start.
“Believe it or not, at halftime when I’m down and I’m not making shots, it’s my teammates who are picking me up,” he said. “They tell me to keep leading the ball, they want me to lead and they want me to score. They trust me to make the right plays so that’s what fuels me.”