“I thought going into the game,” said Davis, “that if we could keep it close in the first half we would have a chance to win this game.”
The Pirates went into the locker room trailing by five and Davis was right. The Pirates claimed a 63-56 win over the Abbeville Wildcats to capture the Vermilion Parish title.
“I kept telling the players,” said Davis, “that if we can keep this close, we can win this game. But I also told them to go out and have fun.”
The fun was had by the crowd in the stands as the two teams treated the audience to a fast-paced basketball game. Abbeville jumped out to an early 4-0 on baskets by Brandon Lee and Mucumbia Ardoin. Kaplan answered with a three-pointer by Michael Landry. Jalen Baker and Landry hit on back-to-back baskets to put Kaplan up 7-4.
“The funny thing is,” said Davis. “that is the worst I have seen us shoot in the first half all year long.”
Abbeville, which had won the previous four Parish tournaments, used another basket by Lee and two more by Ardoin to take a 10-8 lead into the second quarter. The Wildcats led by two heading into the second quarter Wednesday against Gueydan, before going on a 13-0 run to start the second.
“I kept telling the guys,” said Davis, “let’s keep it close.”
A basket by Grettney Roy put Kaplan up 11-10 early in the second quarter. It was at that point the Wildcats started an 11-4 run that put them up 21-15 with 4:13 remaining in the second quarter. Keep the game close was still in the minds of Davis and the Pirates. The teams traded points for the rest of the first half, but the final two came courtesy of Landry. The senior’s shot cut Abbeville’s halftime lead to 28-25.
Abbeville started the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run; that is when something changed for the Pirates.
“We started to hit our shots,” said Davis. “I had a good feeling in the second half.”
In a span of nearly five minutes, Randy Frederick and Roy each hit a pair of threes. The last one, by Frederick, put Kaplan up 43-42 with 1:43 to play in the third quarter. It was a lead the Pirates would not relinquish.
“In the second half,” said Davis, “we made them come out and play man (to-man defense). I thought that was a difference.
“I thought that created some mismatches for us and it worked out.”
There was another area Davis said helped his team Thursday.
“I thought we rebounded extremely well,” said Davis.
Landry led the Pirates with 16 boards to go with 17 points. Frederick scored a game-high 18 points while Roy chipped in 11. Lee paced Abbeville with 12 points and DeAnthony Carter added 10. Abbeville head coach Berwick Hamilton acknowledged his team did not play its best basketball, but took nothing away from Kaplan.
“They outplayed us,” said Hamilton. “Kaplan shot the ball well and out hustled us to every lost ball.
“They are a good team and they are starting to get comfortable with coach Davis’ system.”
Davis is in his first year at Kaplan. He won three tournament titles in a row while at Abbeville. In fact, Thursday’s win gives Davis four of the last five Parish titles. Parish champs has a nice ring to it for Davis in his first year at Kaplan.
“It’s a nice feeling,” said Davis. “The guys deserve this because they worked hard.”