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White Castle 60-47 win over Tensas in Class 1A title game

LAKE CHARLES — Skeptics said there were too many reasons why White Castle could not win.

Some thought the Bulldogs had too many losses. Others said they lost too many close games.

As it turned out, White Castle was simply too good Friday night.

Title-game MVP Ja’Tyre Carter scored a game-high 19 points and pulled down 17 rebounds to help power the Bulldogs past Tensas 60-47 in the Class 1A title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA boys basketball tournament.

“Other teams don’t have what we’ve got,” Carter said. “We are like blood brothers. We know how to connect with each other. I put my heart out on the court for them just like they did for me.”

The 6-foot-5 Carter scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the second half to help the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (25-13) build on a 17-4 second-quarter run. Another 6-5 player, Princeton Young, had 11 of his 13 points in the first half.

The win adds a chapter to the Iberville Parish school’s storied basketball history. It is White Castle’s sixth LHSAA title and its first since 2011.

“The (tough) schedule paid off,” White Castle coach Troy Green said. “Ja’Tyre has been with me since he was an eighth-grader. I knew he was going to accept the challenge. So we were all over … New Orleans, New Iberia, the Plaquemine tournament … everywhere. We lost six one-point games. I told these guys to stay together, and we’d be there in the end.”

Green, Young and Carter said he was dedicated to Othello Batiste, a Bulldogs player who died in an offseason car crash. The No. 11 on White Castle’s shooting shirts is a tribute to Batiste. “I know he is happy,” Carter said.

Tensas coach Charlie Williams also managed a smile. Lamont Bass scored 16 points to lead the sixth-seeded Panthers (26-11) in their first title-game appearance in front of a large Burton Coliseum crowd from the small-town school.

“There weren’t any secrets,” Williams said. “We tried to push the ball, but you can’t run if you don’t rebound. They are a very physical team. We are more finesse. That’s one thing we’re going to work on this summer.”

Tensas controlled the first quarter by making 7 of 10 shots from the field, including two 3-pointers by Bass. Robert Clark scored to ignite a 7-0 run by the Panthers.

It looked like Tensas would take a 16-9 lead into the second quarter. But Princeton Young hit a long 3-pointer to make it 16-12. It was just the start for the Bulldogs.

Two free throws by Carter with 4:10 remaining gave White Castle a 19-18 lead. Tre Melancon followed with a 3-pointer off a pass from Kenneth Bracken. A layup by Koye Ruffin made it 24-18 with 2:11 to go and forced a Tensas timeout.

WCHS led 29-20 at halftime. The Panthers got within four in the third quarter. Unique Young’s drive down the lane with 24.4 seconds left sent the Bulldogs into the final quarter with a 42-34 lead.

Carter was scoring at will by then. He outmuscled the Panthers for rebounds and scored twice in the first four minutes to put the game out of reach.

“This means the world,” Green said of the title.