By Chris Singleton
Houma Courier/Thibodaux Daily Comet
THIBODAUX – No. 1 Thibodaux held off a late rally by No. 9 Natchitoches-Central to win Friday’s Class 5A quarterfinal round playoff game, 67-62, in front of an overflow and electric crowd in Thibodaux’s gym
No. 1 Thibodaux (31-2 overall) will advance to play No. 4 Bonnabel in a Class 5A state semifinal playoff game at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles next week. The LHSAA will release the official game time and date on Saturday.
Natchitoches-Central’s season ended at 22-12.
Thibodaux senior Marvin Robertson Jr. led the Tigers with 22 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists. Senior Rashod Robinson had 15 points, and senior Kobi Johnson had 10 points and six assists.
Thibodaux High coach Tony Clark, who will make his second trip to the state tournament with the Tigers, said his players have worked hard for the moment.
“This was a great game. I’m proud of the kids,” Clark said. “They fought hard. Natchitoches-Central was tough and well-coached. I’m glad we did it.”
The Tigers and Chiefs battled it out for 32 minutes. Thibodaux held leads of 18-15 after the first quarter, 30-27 at halftime and 48-45 at the end of the third quarter.
But Thibodaux quickly built its lead in the fourth quarter, using key baskets and free throws from Robertson, Robinson, J’mari Carter and Tyren Young to take a 64-54 advantage with 1:57 left.
Natchitoches-Central didn’t give in. The Chiefs forced turnovers and cut the score with points in the paint, making it a 65-62 game with 56.4 seconds left.
Thibodaux made its free throws and got important rebounds in the final minutes to run out the clock and seal the win.
The Tigers also got 12 points and 11 rebounds from Rashaud Winslow and key defensive play from Kelly Raymond.
Clark said it was a total team effort.
“We made some shots at times. We got stops at the end,” Clark said. “That’s what is important. We had some big rebounds at the end to give us another shot. That’s the way we play. Everybody plays their role. That’s what you’ve got to do to win. Everybody did what they had to do. That’s what it takes. It takes everybody doing their part to make us successful.”
Natchitoches-Central coach Micah Coleman said costly mistakes and foul trouble hurt their chances in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t think they wore us down,” Coleman said. “I think they capitalized on some mistakes rebounding the ball. We had quite a few turnovers, and really good teams make you pay for mistakes. Thibodaux is a really good team and they capitalized on those mistakes in the fourth quarter. We put ourselves in a hole, and you don’t want to do that against a good team like Thibodaux. Fighting from behind is tough. They closed the door on us at the end. My hat’s off to Thibodaux. It was a great environment and high school game.”
Leading scorers for the Chiefs were Devonte Snow (19 points), Aydrion Brown (13 points), and CJ Carpenter and Trevon Solitaire with 11 points each.
Despite the loss, Coleman said he was proud of his team’s effort. The Chiefs brought a large group of fans from Natchitoches for Friday’s game.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys in that locker room but we’ll be back in this game next year,” Coleman said. “We’re going to be back, and we’re going to be better.”