Calvary’s rally falls just shy of glory

BITTER PILL: Calvary coaches console seniors La’Bree Williams (left) and Martin McDowell. (Photo by JOHN PENROD)

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

LAFAYETTE – If there’s one thing Calvary boys basketball coach Vic Morris can count on, it is that his team will fight to the finish. He knows his players never give in until the final buzzer.

He is right. On an afternoon when the Cavaliers struggled to get started (they shot 2-for-11 from the field in the first quarter), found themselves behind by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, and trailed by 8 with just 44 seconds left in the game, they refused to cave in.

When Martin McDowell hit a 3-pointer with 22.5 seconds left, Calvary was down by only two points to top-seeded Southern Lab in the championship game of the LHSAA Division IV state tournament.

When the final buzzer sounded, however, it was the Kittens who hoisted the championship trophy after they hung on to defeat the Cavs 57-54 at the Cajundome.

The outcome was tough to take for a number of reasons.

First, this was the third straight year that, after reaching the state championship game, Calvary walked off bringing the runner-up trophy back to Shreveport.

Then there’s the heartbreak Morris felt for his seniors, especially the two seated next to him postgame, taking questions from the media.

“These guys right here have been the backbone of three straight state championship game appearances,” Morris said as he looked over at McDowell and La’Bree Williams.

As much as Morris wanted to win the state championship this year, he knows it doesn’t compare to how much it meant to the two seniors sitting beside him.

It was difficult for McDowell and Williams to put their disappointment into words.

“I feel like I played pretty well,” said Williams, who certainly did, with a game-high 27 points and two blocks.

McDowell added 10 points for the Cavs, who finished the season 23-10. He was followed by sophomore Rondae Hill with 8 points and junior Malaki Thomas with 6.

Southern Lab (17-3) had three players in double figures: Tyler Ringgold (15 points), D’Lloyd Joseph (11), and J.T. Curry (10).

“It was a good game,” Morris said. “Hats off to Southern Lab. We knew it was going to be a battle.”

It was. While the Cavs struggled to find their rhythm — they were only 19 of 56 (34 percent) from the field — they continued to fight.

“First of all, I feel like we played a pretty good game,” McDowell said. “I should have made more (shots) at the beginning.”

While he put up only three points going into the final quarter, McDowell refused to go quietly. He scored 7 of his 10 points in the final eight minutes.

As much as McDowell wanted to finish his Calvary career with a state championship, he wanted it even more for his coach.

“Nobody works as hard as Coach Vic,” McDowell said as he fought back tears. “I wish we could have gotten one for him.”

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