By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
Some coaches will tell you they like having a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Captain Shreve boys’ basketball coach Corey Deans doesn’t mince words when he tells you how he feels about it.
“I hate the bye week,” Deans said after his Gators defeated Eleanor McMain of New Orleans 37-32 in the second round of the LHSAA Select Division I playoffs Tuesday night at the Captain Shreve gym.
With the victory, the sixth-seeded Gators (25-5) will now face No. 3-seed Catholic-Baton Rouge – a 61-58 winner over No. 14 Archbishop Rummel — in the quarterfinals.
While the bye gave the Gators a little extra time to prepare for their second-round game against the 11th-seeded Mustangs, it also meant they weren’t as game-ready as they would have liked.
After a back-and-forth, low-scoring first half that saw Shreve take a 14-12 lead into the locker room, McMain came out in the third quarter and went on a 9-0 run to open up the biggest margin of the game.
“Their physicality was overwhelming,” Deans said of the Mustangs, who caused turnovers on the Gators’ first four possessions of the third quarter. “We finally settled down and matched their physicality.”
The Gators were led by sophomore Marcus Lofton, who was held scoreless in the first quarter but came back to hit three 3-pointers and lead Shreve with 13 points.
Junior Jyrin Sowell added nine points for Shreve, followed by AJ Guin with five points and Mekel Hart and EJ McDonald – who finished with four points each.
“He can shoot really well,” Deans said of Lofton, “but I had to light a fire under him in the third quarter so he played like he is capable of playing.”
Deans also lit a fire under Sowell with a little time on the sidelines.
“Yeah, we were a little out of sorts,” said Sowell, who returned from his time on the bench in the third quarter to shut down the Mustangs’ fast-paced play with key rebounds on both ends of the floor. “Coach told me to sit down. I think he was testing me. He told me I had to be better.”
Donte Briggs had a game-high 15 points to lead McMain, which fell to 14-8.
The Gators will go on the road for their quarterfinal matchup with Catholic-BR, which is just fine with both Lofton and Sowell – who were a little disappointed with the low turnout for their home game against McMain Tuesday night.
“We’re all we need,” said Sowell.
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