The Loyola College Prep Flyers didn’t make history Monday night, but they did manage to tie it with their 69-61 victory over Ben Franklin, which didn’t invent anything of note in the LHSAA Division II playoff contest.
Playing the only basketball game in town on a night when the fans might have enjoyed an outdoor game, the Flyers advanced to the LHSAA quarterfinals for just the third time in school history. They’ve never made it past that point but advancing further than the 1997 and 1998 clubs did might be a lofty task since they’ll go on the road to play No. 1 University Lab (27-3) later this week. University’s three losses have come by a combined 9 points.
“We’re just gonna take it one game at a time — work hard in practice,” said senior Tony Dorsey. “We don’t feel they’re No. 1, so we’re coming. We’re coming.”
The Flyers (16-12) got a break when the Falcons (11-18) arrived an hour later than expected and walked into the gym shortly before the scheduled 6 p.m. tip. Given 10 minutes to warmup by the game officials, the New Orleans guests never seemed to get their Mardi Gras legs under them.
Loyola got buckets from Dorsey and Deven Melancon (23 points) to open the game at 5-0 and they never trailed. Dorsey scored 14 points in the first quarter and did what he wanted despite his team being out-sized in the paint.
“The game plan was to come out, box out and limit turnovers,” Dorsey said. “I think we did a pretty good job of that in the second half. The first half they outrebounded us, but in the second half we picked it up a little bit and came out with the victory.”
Playing his last game in the Loyola gym, Dorsey was near perfect, whether driving from the wing or running the offense out front. One of his few mistakes was getting whistled for a technical with under a minute remaining after he and Ben Franklin’s Cameron Nicholas had words after getting whistled for a foul on Dorsey. But that was a minor imperfection as Dorsey poured in 25 points on the night.
Loyola coach Ben Schonfarber was all smiles after his team played, and won, its first home playoff game since 2012.
“I’m really excited for our players who played hard and did a good job sharing the basketball tonight,” Schonfarber said. “Although we hit a lull where we missed some shots, we stayed pretty consistent throughout the night and kept the lead.”
After Dorey hit a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to put his team in front 22-12, the Falcons played a pretty even second quarter.
But Loyola started the second half with successive 3-pointers from Melancon, Anthony Taylor and Mark Dupaquier to burst to a 43-23 advantage. Ben Franklin closed the third quarter with a 9-0 run to get within 14 points. But that’s as close as it would get until the final minute when the Flyers missed four free throws.