Bastrop 63, West Ouachita 51
A strong first half proved to be enough to offset a poor second half as Bastrop repelled West Ouachita 63-51 Friday night in the District 2-4A opener for both sides.
In perhaps their best half of the season, the homestanding Rams caught fire early Friday night.
Cortlen Newsome drilled back-to-back 3-pointers on Bastrop's initial two possessions.
Lee'Montae Boatner's deuce from the left baseline closed the margin to 6-2, but the Rams responded with 11 unanswered points. Three buckets and an assist from Garrett Guirlando and Danny Hill's three-point play highlighted the outburst as Bastrop opened up a 17-2 bulge en route to holding a 23-12 first quarter lead.
Leading 31-16, the Rams dashed off the final 12 points of the half en route to creating a 41-16 spread.
As pretty as the first half was for the Rams, the second half was equally ugly.
"We couldn't have played a better first half. Offensively, we executed well and ran our sets all the way through. We did a lot of things well to get the big lead," Bastrop coach Theabury Odom said. "In the second half, we got out of our gameplan. We got complacent and had some lapses on defense. We did a poor job of boxing out in the second half, and we didn't get back on defense.
"A lot of that comes from not being used to being in that position. We don't have a lot of experience playing with that big of a lead."
Trailing 45-20, the Chiefs outscored the Rams 10-2 over the final six minutes of the third period. D'Andre Harris scored eight points as the visitors outscored Bastrop 16-7 in the quarter.
Still, Bastrop carried a seemingly comfortable 48-32 margin into the final frame.
Garrett Guirlando's 3-pointer gave the Rams a 51-34 lead, but the Chiefs countered with consecutive transition layups by Harris, Derrick Strong and Boatner, and a Lashaveon Henderson free throw to climb within 51-41 with 4:33 to play.
After West Ouachita head coach Daniel Dalleo was called for a technical foul, Garrett Guirlando padded the Rams' lead to 11 by converting one of the two free throws.
Strong's spinning layup cut the deficit to single digits, 51-42, as the game neared the three-minute mark.
Hawkins then sank both free throws after West Ouachita assistant Raschard Boatner was charged with a technical.
Following a Bastrop turnover, Strong beat the Rams up the floor for another fast break layup, bringing the scoring to 54-45.
Moments later, Hawkins set up Denterrius McHenry underneath as Bastrop pushed its lead back to 11.
Lee'Montae Boatner's 3-pointer on West Ouachita's ensuing offensive trip sliced the difference to 56-48 with 2:02 on the clock.
Bastrop was called for traveling on its next possession, presenting the Chiefs with an opportunity to pull even closer.
Back on the other end of the floor, Hawkins' rebound gave the Rams a badly-needed needed defensive stop.
Guirlando's layup off of a Newsome assist upped the Rams' lead to 58-48 with 1:24 remaining.
After West Ouachita misfired on a 3, Newsome applied the dagger with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Owning a 61-48 lead at the one-minute mark, the Rams could finally exhale.
"Fortunately, we hit enough big shots down the stretch to hold on," Odom said. "We knew West Ouachita could shoot the ball well. We have some things to clean up — I understand that — but any time you can start district 1-0, it's good."
Facing his former teammates for the first time, Garrett Guirlando led the Rams (12-7, 1-0) with 16 points. Hawkins, who sat out the final 54 seconds after banging his knee in a collision with a West Ouachita player on a loose ball, was next with 15. Hill scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half, Newsome tallied 11, McHenry six and Jordan Rabun two.
West Ouachita (11-12, 0-1) received a game-high 18 points from Strong, 14 from Harris, seven from Boatner, five from Henderson, four from Cain Burdeaux, two from Reid Guirlando and one from Cole Moore.
Bastrop shot 24-of-58 (41.3 percent), while converting 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) 3-point attempts and 11-of-18 (61.1 percent) free throws.
West Ouachita made 21-of-45 field goals attempts (46.7 percent) while shooting 1-of-8 (12.5 percent) from long range and 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) from the free throw stipe.
Winners of six straight, the Rams continue a six-game homestand against Springhill North Webster on Monday at 7:30 p.m.