Scoring woes bite Gators as Northshore advances to quarterfinals

By PRESTON EDWARDS. Journal Sports

It is something that has been a thorn in the foot of the Captain Shreve Gators all season. However, their stellar team defense usually bailed them out. On Tuesday night, with a trip to the Class 5A boys basketball quarterfinals on the line, their defense could not save them.

“We couldn’t guard and we couldn’t get back in transition,” coach Corey Deans said about the defense played by the Gators on Tuesday.

That, and three single-digit quarters, dug the Gators a hole they could not escape as they bowed out in the regional round of the playoffs to Northshore 63-53 in the Gators’ gym.

“We could have played better. We have had one ballhandler all season and they trapped him,” said Deans. “They did a good job of exposing us tonight.”

Northshore did expose Captain Shreve in the first quarter, causing turnovers by trapping the Gators’ best ballhandler, Kyron Reed. Northshore built an 18-7 first period lead.

Kohen Rowbatham and Landon Renz did a good job of spearheading the Panthers. Time and again, they found James Bridges on back-door layups. Bridges finished with 13 points, making a living at the rim. The guard duo also handled the pressure the Gators attempted to impress upon them.

Panther coach Josh Carlin said the game unfolded as he expected.

“Going into the game, we felt that we had a good game plan, “ Carlin said. “While we knew that their size was their strength, we felt our guard play was our strength. We also felt we had the athletes to play with them.”

Rowbatham, who led all scorers with 19, showed why he is a top-five player in the state’s 2024 recruiting class. His ability to pass and get to his offensive spots allowed Northshore to keep the Gators at bay. The Panthers also beat the Gators several times with baseball passes in transition. At the end of three quarters, the Panther lead ballooned to 20.

Even with the lack of defense and scoring through three periods, Shreve still found a way to cut the spread to single digits with just under two minutes remaining. Christian Ford led the charge with 12 points in the quarter (16 for the game). The Panther guards stepped up again to close the door.

“Both guards (Lenz and Rowbatham) were able to make free throws and control things down the stretch,” Carlin commented. “Even though they sped us up a little bit at the end, both of them were able to maximize possessions for us.”

The 28-point fourth quarter might have been a bigger one for Shreve. However, six missed free throws and a bunch of missed layups ultimately sealed the Gators’ fate.

With the win, Northshore will travel up along I-20 again to face the third-seeded Ruston Bearcats in the quarterfinals. Ruston defeated East Ascension 55-50 on Tuesday night.

Captain Shreve finished its season with an impressive record of 26-6.

Photo by PRESTON EDWARDS