Inspire NOLA Schools hosted its 3rd annual MLK Basketball Showcase Monday at Xavier’s Convocation Center. This year’s event featured seven games with 10 of the 14 teams hailing from the Greater New Orleans area, and the final two games were full of local flavor with Carver taking on Landry-Walker and Karr facing McMain in the final game of the day.
The nightcap matchup between the Cougars and Mustangs was one of the more competitive contests of the event with Karr holding off McMain in the final seconds to pick up a 56-53 victory.
The outside-inside duo of senior point guard Reynaud Shields and junior forward Alfred Anderson led the charge for Karr (10-9) with Shields scoring 15 points with six assists and five rebounds while Anderson had 17 points with six rebounds and two blocks.
McMain (11-11) is most known for their pressure defense, and both Shields and Anderson felt their response to McMain’s aggressive style was the key to victory.
“We just had to beat their press,” Shields began. “Once we beat their press we just took them out of the game.”
“And not only beat the press, but we had to convert too,” Anderson added. “If you beat the press and don’t convert what’s the whole point of it? Coach (Taurus Howard) gets on us everyday at practice saying we have to make layups, be strong and tonight we came out and we did that.”
Like Karr, Carver (16-7) also came out Monday night and took care of business against Landry-Walker (9-15) in a dominant victory.
The Rams jumped out to a 20-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and extended their advantage to 30-13 by halftime. Landry-Walker put up a fight in the second half getting as close as 44-34 on the opening possession of the fourth quarter after a big alley-oop slam from Bennie Amos to Jamond Vincent, but the Rams pulled away over the last eight minutes for a 68-46 victory.
Sophomore duo Solomon Washington and Dorian Finister both stood out scoring 19 and 18 points while senior Michael Pajeaud followed with 16. Finister got a chance to show off his athleticism in the final minutes with two big one-handed dunks on fastbreak opportunities to put an exclamation mark on the win.
“I caught my first body,” said Finister being cheered on by Washington and Pajeaud. “It felt good and you’ll definitely see more this season.”
“What worked well for us was our energy and defensive effort,” Pajeaud added on a bit of a more serious note. “We closed out on shots, got rebounds, finished defensive possessions and worked the offense.”
Amos, a junior for Landry-Walker, had an impressive performance even in the loss scoring a game-high 27 points. He was the catalyst for the Chargin’ Bucs’ second-half comeback scoring 14 in the third quarter alone.
“I thought Bennie (Amos) played hard with effort and with heart, and I thought it took a lot of passion to play like that when we were down,” said Landry-Walker coach Wilfred “Bird” Antoine, who’s working to guide a young Chargin’ Bucs squad through an atypical rough season for the perennial power.
“When you look at this group, we only have one kid right now that actually played last year (Vincent),” Antoine said. “We’re lacking experience but we’re going to keep working.”
MLK Basketball Showcase Results
Booker T. Washington 52, Warren Easton 22
St. Augustine 70, Lafayette Christian 68 (OT)
Bonnabel 55, New Iberia 37
Madison Prep 69, Sophie B. Wright 66
McKinley 60, McDonogh 35 20
Carver 68, Landry-Walker 46
Karr 56, McMain 53