Casey Jones' message to the No. 1 team in Non-Select Division I for the last several weeks has been “defense travels.” After beating the No. 11 team in Non-Select Division III, the Sterlington Panthers, Tuesday night, Wossman’s head coach was asked if he was pleased with his team’s defensive effort in the 62-50 win at home. Jones had a one-word reply.
Jones called it the “big thing” for the Wildcats, urging his team to commit more to the defensive end of the floor. But following the hard-fought victory, Jones was also understanding of the situation.
“We had a tough stretch these last five or six games,” Jones said. “Like I told them, this was a trap game. We ran into a really good Ponchatoula team Sunday, and we’ve got Carroll Friday. It’s hard to not look ahead with kids. Coaches, we’re one game at a time. Sterlington has a good team. They played the right way and made us work for it.”
Wossman clung to a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter against a Panther squad that was determined to gain every loose ball on the floor. But the Wildcats made seven-of-eight free throws down the stretch, while Sterlington struggled from the charity stripe and turned the ball over one too many times against the annual District 1-3A favorite.
“What a fun game,” Glynn said. “We’re just climbing the mountain. (Wossman) has been at the top for a long time. That’s what we’re doing is we’re climbing. And our kids played hard. They never gave up. Did they make mistakes? Yeah. Did we shoot as well as I want to? No. The execution could have been better, but the effort couldn’t have been.”
The first half depicted a back-and-forth battle that took a 12-3 run at the end of the second quarter to give Wossman a little separation.
Jordan Comanche attacked the offensive glass, Kamron Coleman skied high on a rim-rattling alley oop and Krystian Lewis scored both outside and inside, and yet that wasn’t enough to discourage a feisty Sterlington squad.
The Panthers battled with Cooper Nelson scoring all but two of Sterlington’s points in the quarter.
Tied 13-13 in the second quarter, Comanche spun in the lane to get to the rim and regain the lead for the Wildcats. That got the ball rolling on a 12-3 run.
Sterlington had a short-lived momentum swing when Khristian Johnson collected an offensive board and got the put-back to fall to bring the game within five points. However, Wossman put an exclamation point at the end of the quarter when Juvian Keys stole the ball and brought the crowd to their feet with posterizing slam dunk.
In the second half, Nelson heated up from the field with three straight field goals, but Wossman answered with 3-pointers from Lewis and Antron Mason II.
The Panthers finished third quarter with a 7-0 run to get within seven points, but Wossman opened up the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run itself to ultimately outpace the Wildcats in the final period.
Lewis led the Wildcats with 14 points, as four Wossman players scored in double figures. Sterlington’s Nelson led all with 16 points and Cardez Norman added 15 points in the loss.
Wossman 59, Sterlington 25 (girls)
Anyra Wilson had one of those games that shooter’s dream of. With four 3-pointers and 22 first-half points, Wilson helped carry the Lady Wildcats to earn their 10th straight victory and improve to 18-2 overall.
“Anyra has been down on herself because she hasn’t been scoring lately, but she’s been staying late after practice, putting up shots. Tonight was her night,” Robinson said.
Sterlington fell to 15-4 in the loss but maintains a top six seed in Non-Select Division III, while Wossman clings to the No. 2 ranking in Division II.
Wossman opened the contest on a 10-2 run. Early offensive boards, steals generated by a press and six-straight points by Wilson forced Sterlington to take early timeouts.
“We gave them different looks because we knew they wanted to get fast breaks and layups, so we wanted to show them different looks defensively,” Robinson said.
The Lady Panthers cut the deficit to three when Sophie Fletcher drained a trey and Jaleeyah Alford made a layup after Sterlington beat Wossman’s full-court press.
The Lady Wildcats rattled off a 17-1 run to close out the first quarter. And Wilson scored five points just 14 seconds into the second quarter, as Wossman’s lead swelled to 36-8.
The Lady Wildcats took a 47-15 lead into halftime.
Because Wossman led by 35 in the first half, the entire second half was played with a running clock.
Wilson led the Lady Wildcats with 23 points, and Alford led Sterlington with seven points.