Free throws and offensive rebounds bolstered Southwood’s effort all night Tuesday, and sophomore Shakeldrick Calhoun knew his team needed one more from the stripe with a tie game and four seconds remaining.
Calhoun’s second attempt hit every part of the rim before going in, and he snatched a deep pass on the ensuing possession to lift the Cowboys to a 56-55 home win against Captain Shreve.
“I knew I just needed to make it so we can go to the playoffs,” said Calhoun, whose Cowboys (13-8) are 2-0 in District 1-5A play. “When I let it go, I felt a little off balance, but I knew I had to knock it down.
“(On the last play), I just had to go get it (the pass).”
Calhoun scored a team-high 16 points and made five of six free throws as the Cowboys shot 18-of-23 from the line.
Captain Shreve’s Jesse McWright scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half, but the Gators struggled offensively in the second half and at the free-throw line (12-of-22).
Shreve (9-8, 1-1), which led by eight points with 3:40 remaining, lost its first district game since the 2010-11 season, breaking a 21-game district winning streak.
Coach Todd Martinez said while his team usually wins the rebound battle, Southwood outworked the Gators on Tuesday.
“Rebounding is about effort,” Martinez said. “We’ve played bigger teams like Richwood, North Webster and Natchitoches Central, and we weren’t any smaller tonight.
“Some of their free throws came after offensive rebounds. But our message is that it’s early in district, and I think 7-3 or 6-4 could win this district because I think everybody can be beaten on a given night.”
Southwood coach Norman Picou, Jr., said Tuesday night marks another step for a young team that’s already beaten Class 2A power Lakeview.
“It was a great effort, and I think the end of the game didn’t come down to plays but execution,” Picou said. “The steal (leading to Calhoun’s free throw) was effort.
“This young team took a big step forward with a huge win. Anytime you can beat a team like Captain Shreve, one of the best coached teams in the state and the two-time district champs – those are the things you have to do to go to the playoffs.”
Second-chance points kept Southwood alive early as eight such points led to a 14-13 first-quarter lead.
But the Gators started the second quarter on a 16-4 run to lead 29-18. McWright scored seven points during that stretch while Tyrone Earls added a three-point play as part of his 11 overall points.
Southwood chipped into that lead to trail 35-29 at halftime, but a defensive and physical third quarter had the Gators holding steady with a 42-35 edge after a pair of Toronco Loston free throws. Loston, who is Shreve’s leading scorer this season, had 12 points.
The Cowboys struck quickly for a 10-1 run and a 44-43 lead, highlighted by a Kajuan Johnson 3-pointer and five Calhoun points.
Shreve regained the lead (45-44) heading into the fourth, and the period featured five ties and two lead changes.
Southwood’s John Parker scored his only four points in the last 1:30 to offset a Loston bucket before Calhouns’s free throw won the game. Daterrius Hubbard scored four of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.