The La Marque Cougars overcame a sluggish start, and in the second half intensified their defense and clicked on offense for a come-from-behind 58-47 win over the Crosby Cougars at home Wednesday afternoon.
“We played better defense,” La Marque head coach Kevin Wilcox said about the difference in the second half. “We just came out slow. We weren’t playing our style. We were kind of trying to force stuff instead of just running our offense. So, once we got back to running our offense and our kids started doing what we do best, everything fell into place.”
PJ Haggerty’s (27 points) 3-pointer gave Crosby a 34-21 lead early in the third quarter, but Jordan Ivy-Curry (26 points, seven rebounds) answered right back with a 3-pointer, and later in the period, La Marque’s defense began a key, extended stretch of excellent play.
After Deniquez Dunn’s 3-pointer gave Crosby a 39-31 lead with 2:11 left the third quarter, La Marque held Crosby scoreless for 6:39, a period during which La Marque took control of the game.
La Marque made 7 of 8 free throw attempts to get Crosby’s lead down to one point, and then Kevin Boone’s (eight points, 12 rebounds) corner 3-pointer at the 5:42 mark of the fourth quarter gave La Marque a 41-39 lead. It was La Marque’s first lead of the game, and the team remained in front the rest of the game.
As Crosby’s scoring drought continued, La Marque made three more free throws on four tries, and then Ivy-Curry banked in a layup to conclude a 15-0 run.
A bucket down low by Sean Elkinton ended Crosby’s scoreless streak, and a steal and fast-break layup by Haggerty cut La Marque’s lead to 46-43, but La Marque responded with a mid-range jumper by Willie Johns (nine points, seven rebounds) and a coast-to-coast layup by Ivy-Curry.
A strong drive to the basket by Haggerty kept Crosby within striking range, down 50-45 with 1:42 still left to play, but two clutch passes by Ivy-Curry — the first to Edward Robinson (10 points) for an open layup and the next to Robinson for a 3-point try that saw him fouled on the shot — and three consecutive defensive stops sparked an 8-0 run to put the game on ice.
After Robinson converted two of his three free throw tries following the aforementioned foul for a 54-45 lead, Ivy-Curry and Robinson went a combined 4-for-4 at the charity stripe before Haggerty scored on a layup in the game’s waning seconds.
In addition to the key defensive stand, La Marque won the turnover battle in the second half, 12-2, and went 17-for-20 at the free throw line, in stark contrast to shooting 3 of 9 at the line in the first half. Crosby was held to 2-for-12 shooting on 3-pointers in the second half and 5-for-23, overall, in the game.
Led by five points by Haggerty, Crosby jumped out to 7-2 lead to start the game, but Ivy-Curry’s long, buzzer-beating 3-pointer cut Crosby’s lead to 11-9 at the end of the first quarter. A dominant second quarter saw Crosby build its lead to as large as 15 points, and a late 3-pointer by Ivy-Curry put the Crosby advantage at 31-19 at halftime.
The Crosby win is the latest in a rugged non-district schedule for La Marque, which improved to 4-1 on the season with Ivy-Curry averaging 37 points per game.
“He’s a class act,” Wilcox said of his star senior pupil Ivy-Curry. “He came to me after last season and told me, ‘coach, we need to get better, and I need to be better.’ And then when summer started, he said ‘I’m sorry, coach. We need to be on the same page, and we haven’t been.’ He said, ‘I’m bought in, 100 percent.’
“He’s totally bought in, and he’s a team player,” Wilcox added. “He’s coaching, and he’s getting everybody involved.”
Up next will be another tough test for La Marque at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against Fort Bend Marshall.