By T. Scott Boatright
CHOUDRANT — In a battle of two of the top teams in Louisiana Class B boys basketball, the Choudrant Aggies never trailed the Doyline Panthers until the final tick off the clock.
But that last second was a heartbreaker.
Doyline standout Jamaria Clark’s driving putback that sank through the nets as the final buzzer sounded Monday night helped the Panthers stun a packed and raucous crowd at the CHS Gym as the visitors escaped with a 50-48 walk-off win.
“It’s tough to let it slip away there at the end, but I’m truly proud of the guys and I told them that in the locker room,” said Choudrant Coach Ryan Smith. “We’re a very resilient bunch still dealing with some injuries that have left us a little shorthanded. But playing a team like this with the kind of heart we showed was really good to see.”
Choudrant opened scoring on a putback by Mike Jones 36 seconds into the first quarter and closed out the stanza with a layup off an offensive rebound by Eli Callender that put the Aggies on top 13-6 heading into the second quarter in a physical, hard-fought game from start to finish.
A little more than a minute later Doyline’s Brook Swain drove to the bucket for a layup that cut the Choudrant lead to one point at 13-12, but the Aggies countered with four straight points before the Panthers counter-punched with five straight points to tie things up at 17-17 with 3:!8 remaining in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Clark.
But the Aggies outscored the Panthers 6-1 the rest of the first half to take a 23-18 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
By late in the third quarter the Aggies started trying to take control, with a pair of consecutive inside buckets with 1:01 and :46 remaining in the stanza putting Choudrant on top 36-24.
Doyline cut Choudrant’s lead back down to 10 with a pair of Clark free throws with 12:5 second left in the quarter to shrink the Panthers’ deficit to 36-26 heading into the final eight minutes.
The Aggies maintained their intensity throughout as that showed to open the fourth quarter as a Lachlan Thompson jumper and a baseline layup off an assist from Parker Batterton put Choudrant up by 14 at 40-26 with 7:09 remaining.
Doyline answered with a 10-0 run culminating with a short turnaround jumper by ShaDavion Martin that cut Choudrant’s lead to 40-36 with 5:34 left on the clock.
After Jones finally ended Choudrant’s scoring drought with an inside basket with 5:22 remaining, Clark pulled up and fired in a 3-pointer that sliced the Doyline deficit to three points at 42-39 in favor of the Aggies at the 5:02 mark of the final stanza.
Choudrant rebuilt a five-point advantage at 45-40 with 4:09 remaining on a Lawson Stevens free throw, but the Panthers kept scratching and clawing, cutting the Aggies’ lead to 47-46 with 1:23 seconds left on a Jay Patterson putback.
Stevens connected on one of a pair of attempted free throws with 41.8 seconds remaining to push the Aggies’ advantage to 48-46, but Doyline’s Keidric Clark followed with a layup with 32 seconds remaining to set up the thrilling finish.
Doyline’s Jay Patterson had a chance to put his team on top with 14:4 seconds left, but missed on both of two attempted free throws.
The Panthers were able to rebound the ball, and after Clark failed to connect on a late jumper, Clark raced in to grab the rebound then drove to the basket to sink the putback at the buzzer for the win.
Clark led all scorers with 24 points while Damarion McClendon and Patterson added 10 points each for the Panthers.
Choudrant was led by Jones with 16 points while Thompson added 12 points and Stevens chipped in with 11 for the Aggies, who fell to 18-6 while Doyline climbed to 16-2.
“We knew it would be tough with their talent level and how well they move and score the ball,” said Smith about Doyline. “They can just really play.”
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