Senior sinks shot of a lifetime to send Chiefs to semi-finals

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From left are #23 Gerald Williams, shooting is #20 Dalyn Davis, and at right is #12 Darius Young. Davis avoids total chaos to take the ball to the hoop.

Every basketball player, whether they are in their backyard or the NBA Finals, dreams of hitting a game-winning shot. Senior guard Sean Lacour lived out that dream by hitting a game winner Friday night against Captain Shreve High School to send Natchitoches Central to the Class 5A Semi-Finals of the LHSAA boys’ basketball playoffs. Natchitoches Central scored the last 9 points of the game to beat Captain Shreve 41-39.

•Click link below to see game winning shot video• Video by LeRon Massey

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It was an unbelievable back and forth game where neither team took more than an eight point lead. Defense was the focus of the game. Both teams went scoreless in the first five minutes, ending the first quarter with a combined 11 points total. Natchitoches Central Head Coach Kolton Sepulvado knew it would be a hard-fought and physical game on the defensive side for the whole game. “Captain Shreve, in terms of defense, they are a lot like us. Two tough physical programs that take a ton of pride defensively and getting stops and man-to-man. They did a great job of that tonight as did we. I think they’re physically a little bit better than us at times but like most nights we wanted to take advantage as much as we could of our inside game,” said Sepulvado. Nat Central’s star big men, Jaiden Hare and Darius Young, were held to a combined 12 points.

Justin Aaron lets the ball roll into the net for two.

Captain Shreve played physical with their big men all night making it tough for them to get going inside. Sepulvado knew the game could have gone either way and he is thankful the ball bounced in their favor. “We really, really trust our bigs, but they did a great job all night long by bodying Darrius and Jaiden, being physical with the bigs and trying take us out of what we do. I must credit our guys because they stuck to what we do and trusted what we did. Sean just made a heck of a shot at the end,” said Sepulvado. “This is one of those games that both teams deserved to win and both teams fought hard to win but the ball just bounces your way sometimes. I am blessed and thanked God for it because that is one of those games that neither teams deserve to lose because we fought for 32 minutes and that was great basketball,” said Sepulvado.

#12 Darius Young doesn’t lose focus even though a Captain Shreve player has his arm in a death grip as #24 Jaiden Hare #24 closes out the shot.
Photos by LeRon Massey, Freelance Photographer

Nat Central ended the first half with a 17-12 lead over Captain Shreve but they started the second half slow as Shreve went on a 5-0 run to tie the game, forcing Sepulvado to take an early time out to get his team back focused. Natchitoches Central has started their last two playoff games slow in the third quarter coming out after halftime. Coach Sepulvado does not know exactly why his team comes out a little flat after the break, but he believes in his team as they continue to battle their way back into the game. “I wished I knew 100 percent why we start the third a bit slow because I promise you, I would fix it. The past two games we have been slow coming out after halftime and we tell our guys from the start. We must regroup because we are about to get their best shot especially if we have a lead at all at halftime,” said Sepulvado. “They hit us in the mouth, and it took a little while longer to response, but we talked about this game with these two programs. With the way they play, we knew it was going be a fight for 32 minutes and you just must keep fighting. Every possession and every second we must keep fighting,” said Sepulvado.

#11 Sean Lacour takes it in for two at the quarterfinals battle with Captain Shreve March 5. The Chiefs defeated the Gators 41-39 to advance to the semi-finals March 10 where they will face #4 seed Hahnville. Hahnville squeaked past #5 seed Bonnabel 52-50 in the quarterfinals. The winner of NCHS and Hahnville will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 13 in Burton Stadium for the state championship.

Usually, a very good shooting team in Natchitoches Central was having a horrible night from deep. Going into the fourth quarter NCHS was 0-10 from three and they had all but given up hope from distance, but that did not stop Lacour from taking the game winner from three. Sepulvado pulled Lacour early in the third quarter for a costly turnover and he did not see the floor again till late in the fourth. Down by 5 with 2 mins left, Sepulvado put him back in the game. “We got down 5 with 2 minutes to go and in our timeout, we said, ‘we are going keep fighting’ and they did that. I cannot credit those guys enough because it is easy to hang your head in that moment and let stuff snowball on you, but they showed such resilience and toughness,” said Sepulvado.

With such high stakes on the line Sepulvado knew he could turn to his seniors and trust them to lead the team to victory. He knew his seniors were ready for this moment. “Sean is a senior and throughout our program if you can make it to your senior year and deal with us for four years then you are pretty tough, so we have to be able to trust you. Those guys that stick around for four years, we trust them because they earned it,” said Sepulvado. “In that moment, our inside look was not there, and we tell our guards, especially in those situations on a reversal, you must trust yourself that if you can get it off – then it is a good shot.

In the Thursday, March 11, 2021, print edition