At times on Tuesday, the state-ranked Cougars played in a fog thicker than the one outside La Marque High School before finally walking out of it and playing like the team in position to win the District 24-3A regular season crown.
Paced by a smothering defense, the Coogs finished strong as a 28-8 run in the final 11 minutes of play led them to a 51-31 victory over Altair Rice Consolidated, improving their record to 19-11 overall and 10-1 in district play.
“Sometimes, I don’t know what to expect from them,” said La Marque coach Kevin Wilcox. “When we’re locked in, we can play with anyone, but we get into stretches where they fail to do the little things that are necessary to win games.”
The Cougars found themselves in a 23-23 stalemate against the Raiders with 5:10 left in the third quarter. Befuddled by a combination of misses at close range and a stubborn Rice Consolidated team that forced them to slog into a half-court game, La Marque took the lead for good when De’Shawn Murphy knocked down a 3-pointer and opened the door for the decisive stretch that put the Raiders down.
Jordan Ivy-Curry scored seven of his team-high 13 points during a 19-3 spurt that gave the Coogs much-needed breathing room with 5:01 left in the contest. From there, La Marque’s press exhausted Rice Consolidated, which failed to score a basket in the fourth quarter until Ian Hargrove’s trey finally stopped the drought with 37 seconds left.
The Cougars will have Friday off before ending the regular season at home against Brazos on Tuesday.
“We’re fortunate to have such a late open date,” said Wilcox. “It gives us coaches the opportunity to go on the road and start scouting some of the teams we may run into once the playoffs begin.”
Ray McChristian added 12 for La Marque, while Murphy had eight and Edwin Robinson had seven for the Cougars.
Warren Scott had eight to lead Rice Consolidated.