Crescent City fends off Central Catholic to earn boys state semifinal berth

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METAIRIE – Crescent City head coach Brandon Russ has worked hard in the coaching ranks to get to this point in his career. He was an assistant coach at Crescent City under former head coach Shaun Dumas and helped put together three state boys basketball title teams for the Pioneers.

Dumas moved on from the program, and Russ took over with the task of maintaining the success.

With a chance to return Lake Charles for the Division IV Select semifinals, the Pioneers faced a stiff challenge from Central Catholic.

Crescent City was taken to the wire but Benjamin Case’s potential game-tying three-pointer came up short in the final seconds as the Pioneers advanced with a 60-57 victory Friday night at Crescent City Gymnasium.

Both teams battled back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. Dwight Magee scored consecutive layups giving the Pioneers a 51-47 lead but Central Catholic bounced back with a 6-0 run thanks to consecutive three-pointers by Case.

Cam’ron Jones made two free throws to give the Pioneers a 56-55 lead with 1:14 remaining before Vernon Singleton scored a backdoor layup to give the Eagles 57-56 lead with 45.7 seconds to go.

Magee stepped up to make the biggest play in his young career. He scored a driving layup that proved to be the game winner to put the Pioneers up 58-57.

Afterwards, Singleton was called for a charging foul with 14.9 seconds remaining. Chris Douglas made two free throws for the Pioneers to extend the lead before the Eagles fell short from distances in the final seconds.

“We helped each other out on defense. We played inspired defense and we came out with the win,” said Magee. “We started the program back up again and we’re doing great. From now on, we got to keep working and play hard.”

Crescent City started the game by firing on all cylinders, knocking down four shots from behind the arc. Magee hit a pair of three while Jones and Douglass nailed one each.

Singleton and Case responded with a couple of deep jumpers but Blackburn scored a pair of driving layups to put the Pioneers ahead 20-18.

Blackburn and Landon Lipari scored a pair of layups giving the Eagles a 24-22 lead but Magee and Fred Green knocked down a pair of three-pointers to give the home squad the lead back at the half, 30-26.

Central Catholic caught fire starting the second half to take a 35-33 lead. Dylan Williams knocked down two from three-point ranges and Singleton followed with another triple. Crescent City answered with a three-pointer by Magee on the way to the Pioneers’ biggested advantage of the night at lead 40-35.

The Eagles didn’t go away that easy as Gary Nicar knocked down a three pointer. They made six three-pointers in the second half combined. Then Blackburn scored a driving layup giving the Eagles a 43-42 lead.

Crescent City had two players scoring in double figures. Magee led the Pioneers with 24 points. Douglas finished with 13 points.

“These guys had us well scouted with everything we ran. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We know that’s the stakes of getting to the Top 28,” said Russ. “I learned a lot from Coach Shaun (Dumas). He said when you become a head coach, you got this. I knew if I had the opportunity, I would get these guys back to the Top 28.”

Central Catholic had three players scoring in double figures. Case led the Eagles with 15 points. Blackburn finished with 12 points. Singleton scored 10 Points.

“We followed the game plan and we laid it on the line. We made big shots but we couldn’t get a stop or a rebound in the last minute,” said Central Catholic head coach Rea Case. “We shot the ball well all year. That’s the strength of our team. This is the best year we had in a long time. This is the best teams I ever had to coach because all I have to do is coach them.”

Crescent City will face Lincoln Preparatory School in the Division IV Select semifinals at Burton Complex in Lake Charles, La.

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