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RUSTON — Christian Norris drove for the game-winning layup in the waning seconds as Cedar Creek overcame a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to edge St. Frederick, 45-43, Friday night.

In what has become a familiar story of late, the Warriors (18-5, 4-4 District 2-1A) weren’t able to put the game away at the free throw line.

“We have five losses on the year — all by single digits,” St. Fred coach Terry Waldrop said. “In each loss, we shot below 50 percent from the free throw line. It’s not hard to figure out. When you shoot 4-of-11 from the free throw line, it’s hard to close out a game on the road.”

Free throws weren’t the only culprit Friday night as four of St. Fred’s final four possessions ended in turnovers.

With a chance to go up by 12 in the fourth quarter, the Warriors misfired on a 3-pointer. Back on the other end, Jack Mitcham’s trey trimmed the deficit to six.

“Instead of going up 12, they cut it to six,” Waldrop said. “We had some turnovers and they hit a couple of tough shots. Mitcham hit two really big 3s when they were on the ropes.” 

Down by one on their final possession, the Cougars spread the floor, and Norris worked his way inside off the dribble for the game-winning basket.

“Credit coach (Robert) Mitcham and Cedar Creek for putting themselves in position to win the game,” Waldrop said. “We only give up around 40 points a game, so we can obviously guard, but we didn’t do a very good job of it down the stretch. I don’t think I did a very good job of coaching, and I don’t think we did a good job of executing what we needed to execute.”

St. Fred won the initial meeting, 60-43, in Monroe, but the Cougars were able to salvage the split with the home court victory.

“It was a great environment in a packed house,” Waldrop said. “We had a good turnout from the St. Frederick students. It was a great atmosphere for a high school basketball game, especially for this level in north Louisiana.”

Norris finished with 18 points for the Cougars (12-11, 4-4), who are now riding a season-high three-game winning streak.

Pat Johnson was high scorer for the Warriors with 19.

“It’s all about playoff seeding now,” said Waldrop, whose team began the week at No. 13 in the Division IV power rankings. “This loss really hurt us for a lot of reasons.”

St. Fred faces Delta Charter on Tuesday night in Ferriday before hosting Oak Grove on Friday.

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