Peabody’s Gabriel Jordan dunks in front of a group of O.P. Walker players during Tuesday night’s Class 4A quarterfinal game. The Warhorse defeated the Chargers, 56-45, and advance to the Top 28. / Tia Owens-Powersfirstname.lastname@example.org
It wasn't pretty if you like offense.
Then again, if defense is your game, top-seeded Peabody's 56-45 Class 4A quarterfinal basketball victory over No. 8 seed O. Perry Walker at the Emerald Palace Tuesday night was eye candy.
Dvonte Tennie, who is considered the best defender for Peabody and who was inspired by a stirring rendition of the national anthem sung by his grandfather, Greg Tennie, led the Warhorses in scoring with 33 points, including nine free throws in 15 attempts. He carried the defending state champions (29-5) to the Top 28 for the fourth straight year.
Peabody will next play Northside of Lafayette at one of three regional sites around the state -- either Bossier City, Lake Charles or Hammond. The time and place will be announced by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association today.
Walker, which handed Peabody its worst defeat of the season, by 73-61 in the Barbe Tournament on Dec. 22, closed its season at 22-10.
Corey Wells Jr. led the Chargers with 12 points, and Lamar Peters, one of two Walker players to foul out in the last three minutes, added 10.
Both teams seemed tightly wound for this rematch to determine a place in the Class 4A Final Four, and the Warhorses managed a 13-10 lead after the first period, with Gabriel Jordan getting a crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunk for Peabody's last basket of the quarter.
Peabody built an 11-point lead with an 8-0 run to start the second quarter, with Tennie getting six of those points on a follow shot, a length-of-the-court drive and a fast break layup.
Yet, Walker outscored Peabody 8-6 the rest of the way in the second period to pull within 27-18 at halftime.
"At the half, we told 'em to read our keys on defense," said Peabody coach Charles Smith. "For some reason we were tight on offense tonight. I don't know if we were being cautious or protecting a lead, but I think that was the tightest we've been on offense all season. I was glad our defense hung in there."
Peabody played mostly a man-to-man defense, Smith said, because it couldn't afford to play a zone against a team that could shoot well from outside.
Peters and Tyree Griffin each hit 3-pointers in the first half for Walker, which blew several scoring opportunities with mistakes or poor shooting in close. Both teams had serious trouble scoring in the third quarter, which Walker won, 6-5. It was also during the third quarter members of both the New Orleans and Alexandria police departments had to exercise some crowd control with some disruptive Walker fans, some of whom were escorted from the gym.
"In the third quarter, it was like there was nothing we could do, we couldn't score," said Tennie. "So we just focused on playing 'D.' Our defense kept us motivated to play hard."
By the fourth quarter, the Warhorses loosened up enough to generate more offense.
Tennie got 16 of his points in the fourth quarter, when Peabody was able to gradually pull away while shutting down Walker's offense, with help from some good defensive plays by Devetrice Boyd.
"This was Tennie's kind of game -- you bow your ears back and play basketball," said Smith. "He rebounded at will and made his free throws, and he had a good number of offensive rebounds."
Peabody did not score a field goal after Tennie made a driving bank shot with about four minutes remaining. Instead, the Warhorses paraded time and again to the foul line, making 14 of 24 free throws down the stretch as the Chargers continued to foul players repeatedly even in the final minute when Peabody led, 49-37.