Newman handles Calvary Baptist for back-to-back boys basketball state titles
LAKE CHARLES – Isidore Newman head coach Randy Livingston was on a mission from the moment he returned to his alma mater. He wanted to bring Newman boys basketball back to the glory days when he led the Greenies to three straight state titles as a player.
Last season, Newman broke a 29-year drought last by winning their 10th state title. This year, they repeated the feat.
Livingston and his senior class rose to the occasion and outplayed Calvary Baptist from start to finish to win the Division III Select state championship 52-42 Friday afternoon at the Burton Complex.
Newman (25-3) got off to a fast start when fellow senior captains Law Agovino and Chris Lockett set the tone. Lockett, headed to Boise State next season, knocked down a jumper. Agovino then scored a driving layup and a three pointer as the Greenies took an early 10-2 lead. Sebastian Thrower added to the hot start with a three-pointer extending the lead to 14-2.
In a low-scoring first half, Calvary Baptist (25-6) battled back with a 7-0 run. KJ Kennon scored two layups and Ronald Strong knocked down a three-pointer to make it 14-11. The Greenies answered with a driving layup by Lockett to give Newman a 16-11 lead at the half.
Newman put the peddle to the metal starting the second half. Chris Leman knocked down a jumper while Lockett drained a three-pointer and a layup extending the lead to 25-14.
Calvary Baptist kept things close with a layup by Strong and a three-pointer by Rondae Hill to draw within 28-19. The Greenies answered with a 9-0 run. Canin Jefferson stepped up six points in a decisive run, giving Newman their biggest lead 37-19.
“It was definitely special. I struggled in the 1st half but he (Lockett) kept the team together by making plays,” said Jefferson. “We came together in the second half and finished off the game the right way. It’s definitely been a great four years.”
The Cavaliers refused to quit and went on a 9-1 run starting the 4th quarter. Kennon knocked down a jumper and a three pointer as the Eagles trailed 42-35.
The senior captains Lockett and Jefferson put a bow on their careers at Newman. Jefferson converted a three-point play before Lockett converted at the rim for a commanding 47-35 lead.
“I feel if we’re on different teams we would average 30 points a game,” said Lockett. “We rub off each other and just communicate. We wanted to finish on the right note because we grew up together.”
Newman had two players scoring in double figures. Lockett was named the Most Outstanding Player of the game with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists. Jefferson finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“We had made a commitment to be excellent in the beginning of the season and we stuck to it,” said Livingston. “We couldn’t put them away because they’re a good team. I thought we were resilient and we played good enough defense to make things tough for them. Once you become committed to excellence, something that don’t work all the time become a habit for the program. You plant seeds in the players. Their (Canin and Chris) maturation level was awesome. They set the tone for the guys behind them to understand that it’s tough. Canin and Chris knows how to play basketball. They are winners.”
Kennon led Calvary Baptist with 15 points and six rebounds. Strong finished with nine points and three rebounds. Hill added eight points, four assists, three rebounds.
It was an interesting week for Calvary Baptist head coach Victor Morris. He didn’t coach his team in a 52-47 Division III semifinal victory against Catholic New Iberia; instead, he was with his wife for the birth of their newborn daughter. He made it back in time to coach the state championship game.
“This team really overachieved this season. When you lose certain kids, you don’t know what you’re going to get. I’m proud of these guys and how we fought,” said Morris. “I try to prepare these guys for anything. I was told that it could happen in the 1st quarter. If my phone goes off, I’m a sprint off the floor. I preach and teach to these guys that family is first. I love basketball but I wasn’t going to miss my baby being born.”
Isidore Newman has won their 11 state title in school history and 1st back to back titles since 1991-1993.
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