New players Pilot LSUS over Centenary as hoops tips off

 IN-CITY SHOWDOWN:  The local college basketball season tipped off Tuesday night as LSUS (white jerseys) hosted Centenary. (Photo by PRESTON EDWARDS, Journal Sports)

By PRESTON EDWARDS, Journal Sports

The contest was tabbed as the “Shreveport Showdown” by the public address announcer Tuesday night at The Dock.

Others probably saw it as a chapter in a crosstown rivalry.  Whatever you call it, whenever Centenary and LSUS hook up, it usually brings out the city and a ton of excitement to go with it.

For both teams, the 2022 version of the Shreveport Showdown served as a way for the new-look Pilots and the Gentlemen of Centenary to start the season on a good foot.  While this game was an exhibition for the Gents, it gave them a good test to prepare for the season.  On the other hand, LSUS saw the game as an opportunity to move to 1-0 with a brand-new team.

While they got off to a slow start in the first 20 minutes, the Pilots outscored Centenary by 18 in the second half to walk away with a 91-82 victory.

Natchitoches Central alum CJ Carpenter poured in a game-high 29 points, 21 in the second half. He had help from his fellow newbies Jalen Brooks, Stacey Thomas, and Jordan Decuir as they scored 14, 13, and 12 points respectively. 

Centenary was led by newcomer Jerrick Baines (a Bismarck State College transfer) and returning all-conference performer Seth Thomas, each scoring 21 points. 

Centenary coach Chris Dorsey liked much of what he saw from the Gents, and was impressed by the Pilots.

“I was proud of the way we competed and the toughness our team showed,” he said. “LSUS is  very skilled as a team and they are tough to defend.  We played great team defense tonight.”

LSUS’ Kyle Blankenship echoed Dorsey’s sentiments, complimenting Centenary by saying that the Gents took them out of a lot of their sets in the first half. He said the Pilots looked like a squad trying to put together a lot of new pieces.

“We’re a brand-new team and our starting point guard was out with a concussion, so we went point guard by committee. We struggled offensively and defensively we looked even worse,” said Blankenship. “We were more aggressive defensively in the second half.”

Blankenship was asked about the Natchitoches Central backcourt duo of Devonte Snow and Carpenter. They brought their customary defensive intensity from their NCHS days to the contest and Blankenship thought highly of it. 

“They are tough guys in the backcourt.  They added a toughness to our team that I think we needed.”

Both coaches thought highly of their freshman contributors as well.  Gents freshman Quinton Beverly scored 12 points in his debut while the four Pilot freshmen who hit the floor combined for 20 points, led by Decuir and his 12 points. 

The game began with Centenary looking like the more seasoned team for the first time in recent series history.  In the opening 20 minutes, the visitors shot 70 percent from behind the 3-point stripe and held the Pilots to 47 percent from the field, including only 17 percent from distance.  Baines and Thomas scored 10 points apiece as they carried the Gents to a 47-38 lead at the half. 

But the Pilots turned the tables afterward with a 53-point second half and cooled off Centenary’s shooters, securing the win.

Centenary will play another exhibition contest at UL-Lafayette before officially beginning the season with a home tilt against Arlington Baptist next Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 7 o’clock.  The Pilots will host Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) Nov. 10 at 6.