By LaMar Gafford, Contributing Writer
LAKE CHARLES — It wasn’t easy, but Natchitoches Central lives to see another day. Natchitoches Central withstood two second half rallies to defeat Hahnville, 58-48, in the Class 5A semifinals Wednesday. Chief senior Darius Young had a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead the team, while senior Gerald Williams added 11 points and three 3-pointers.
NCHS (23-1) led 28-19 at halftime, but the Tigers cut the deficit to one point in the third and fourth quarters, before NCHS answered with runs of their own. The Chiefs outrebounded the Tigers, 33-23, and picked up 12 offensive rebounds. “That’s what we expect from (Darius),” Chiefs coach Kolton Sepulvado said. “He’s a senior and it’s like we tell our seniors, ‘If you can last four years in this program, you gotta be pretty tough, because you would have found something else to do.’ All our seniors have had great years all year long. They set such great examples.”
“(In the fourth quarter), I was feeling like, ‘We can win this one,’” Young said. “This was on my mind since I woke up. I was having chills the whole day ready to get on the court. When I started to take advantage of it, I just took advantage of it.” Hahnville (18-4) was led by senior Claudell Harris Jr., who had 14 points, four rebounds and three steals. Senior Kaden Pierre added 14 points, four rebounds and two steals for the Tigers.
The Tigers fell victim to a 16-7 run after NCHS regained control in the last five minutes. “Hahnville’s a great team and they’re well coached,” Sepulvado said. “Claudell Harris Jr. is an unbelievable player and scorer. That kid is tough to guard. He can knock down shots, is athletic, can get to the rim and handle the ball.” The Chiefs will face Zachary in the Class 5A championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We try to tell the guys that we can’t explain the feeling of playing on the very last day and you’re holding up that trophy at the end,” Sepulvado said. “We’ve experienced it both ways and I’ll take the better end of it all day long. We’re just fortunate and blessed that we get an opportunity to play Saturday.”