Fair Park hasn’t hosted a home playoff game since 2006-07, but the Indians didn’t really get the party started until a C.J. Thomas alley oop electrified the crowd in the third quarter.
The Thomas dunk on a lob from Donnie Perkins aided a key third-quarter run in the No. 11 Indians 66-53 win against No. 22 Opelousas.
Up 27-23 early in the third quarter, the Indians went on a 12-0 run over a five-minute stretch and never trailed by less than 10 points the rest of the game.
“(This win) felt really good because we haven’t had a home playoff game in a long time,” Thomas said. “We were just comfortable with each other, and we didn’t give up on each other.
“I’m so happy to see the second round. We’ve lost in football in the first round … and I’m so happy to make it to the second round, to tell you the truth.”
Fair Park (21-7) heads to defending Class 4A champion and No. 6 Landry-Walker in the second round.
Coach Eddie Hamilton said he enjoyed seeing a full Fair Park gym.
“It was exciting being at home and exciting to actually have a crowd here to support the kids,” Hamilton said. “It felt like we had a home-court advantage tonight.
“The biggest things for us even though Opelousas knocked down some (fourth-quarter) 3-pointers, we held them to eight third-quarter points. Even though we had some of those defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter, we started feeling it offensively and kept our lead.”
Defense typically carries Fair Park, and Thomas led an active defense with his blocked shots and deflections. The Indians held Opelousas to eight points in both the first and third quarters before the Tigers made five of their eight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Hall led all scorers with 14 points while Thomas added 13 and Perkins had 11. Six of the seven Indians scored at least six points.
“We said before the third quarter that we were going to focus on defense and not worry about our offense,” Hall said. “Whoever is the hot man, we go to them and live with the results.
“We work on (deflections) every day in practice … and we work on defensive drills and half-court defense a lot.”
Perkins made two 3-pointers before his lob to Thomas highlighted Fair Park’s 12-0 run in the third quarter.
Down 6-5 early, Michael Fuller hit two jumpers to spark a 9-3 run to lead 14-8 after the first quarter.
Opelousas scored the next eight points to regain the lead 16-14, but the Indians answered with an 11-2 run and never trailed again. Hall scored five of his 14 during that run.