By Marco Clark, exclusive to the Times
The Natchitoches Central Chiefs defeated the Yellow Jackets of Denham Springs Tuesday night advancing to the Elite Eight. It was a hard-fought battle from start to finish but the Chiefs came out victorious. Chief Desmond Vaughn won the opening tip-off which allowed Brian White to take control of the first possession of the game. White got to the basket for the first score of the game. The Yellow Jackets would not have an opportunity to answer the Chiefs on their first possession due to the Chief Adrian Remo deflecting a pass from Denham Springs’ Ray White.
B. White came up with the ball and found Vaughn under the basket for the easy lay-up. The Yellow jackets had trouble finding a rhythm on offense until Micah Banks hit a 3-pointer with 3:21 left in the first quarter. The Chiefs maintained their output of scoring closing out the first quarter with a respectable 10-point lead 20-10.
The Jackets opened the second with Dorsett Washington hitting a jumper for two. Remo answered quickly to put the Chiefs back on top by 10. Both teams scoring then came to a screeching halt. Blocked shots, along with turnovers, had both head coaches pulling their hair out. The Jackets out scored the Chiefs by 2 points, 10-9 to end the first half 29-21 Chiefs.
The Chiefs played better after the half cutting down on turnovers, but White got into foul trouble landing him a spot on the bench. Tre Solitaire stepped in to provide stability on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball which allowed the Chiefs to maintain their lead throughout the third. Natchitoches Central out scored the Yellow Jackets 13-12 making the score 42-33 in favor of the Chiefs.
The fourth quarter brought the best out of both teams. The Jackets, faced with elimination from the playoffs, fought hard for every rebound while switching to a full court press defense. Natchitoches Central continued to play hard, knowing the next round was within reach. Solitaire continued playing well in the fourth cementing firm control of the game. Solitaire’s 16 points, six rebounds and four assists fueled a spark in the Chiefs offense to secure a 66-51 victory.
Next up for the #1 seeded Chiefs is a home game against #8, New Iberia, Friday, March 3 at 7 p.m. It looks to be the most challenging game for the Chiefs with New Iberia coming off #9 seeded Comeaux. NCHS has yet to compete against a team ranked in the single digits during the playoffs.