Tioga High's Terrance Cobb (2,) goes for a layup against Peabody Magnet High's Jeff Sibley on Friday at Peabody in Alexandria. Tioga won, 63-58. / Melinda Martinezemail@example.com
On the one hand, Tioga High center Aaron Epps, the senior Louisiana State signee, lived up to his billing Friday night as one of the best players in the state.
On the other hand, Peabody Magnet High guard Cedric Russell, being eyed from the press table by Baylor University assistant Jerome Tang, had the kind of game that vaulted him into one of the premier freshmen in the state.
Epps had 17 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots to lead visiting Tioga HIgh to a sweaty 63-58 victory over late-charging, top-ranked Peabody at a packed Emerald Palace at Peabody in Alexandria.
It was the first victory for Tioga over Peabody since 1995, and it clinched at least a share of the District 3-4A title for the Indians. A win at home Tuesday against DeRidder High would lock up the title outright, marking the first time since 1994 the Warhorses won’t claim at least a share of the title.
Tioga (27-3, 8-0 3-4A) led by as much as 17 on a few occasions, including early in the fourth period.
Down 14 after three quarters, the Peabody Warhorses rallied behind the hot shooting of Russell, a 6-foot-3 guard, who hit three of his four 3-pointers in the final frame to pull Peabody within three at 61-58 with 10 seconds left.
Terrance Cobb (14 points) hit two free throws to clinch the victory for the No. 4 Indians with nine ticks left.
Peabody missed two shots in the final seconds and fell to 23-5 overall and 5-2 in district.
“I told our guys before the game I was pretty confident that if we stuck with our game plan, and held Peabody to one shot (each possession) and played smart, we had a good chance to win,” said Tioga baskleball coach Lance Brasher. “We did that in the first half for the most part, but in the second half, they went ballistic in the last five minutes and just wouldn’t miss.”
The Warhorses went on a 15-7 run to pull within nine at 51-42 on a jump shot by Russell. Peabody drilled six 3-pointers in nine attempts in the fourth quarter. Two of those misses, by Russell and Dammon O’Conner, came on one sequence when Peabody had three missed shots before Jeff Sibley was fouled and made two free throws to cut the lead to 61-58.