LEESVILLE – Big blocked shots set the tone in the paint early as Leesville took a lead in the district.
The Wampus Cats defeated Tioga 49-43 Friday night at home to stay undefeated in Class 4A, District 3.
"It's a great feeling," Leesville head coach Troy Grigg said. "It's great to do it at our place. Tioga is never going to give up. They didn't give up until horn sounded. (Tioga head coach) Lance Brasher does a great job with Tioga. They play hard for him all the time, and you can't take anything away from them."
Leesville forward Duwon Tolbert blocked several shots in the paint, forcing the Indians to alter their attempts any time they came near the rim.
"It allows us to take some chances defensively as long as we are rotating and blocking out on the off side," Grigg said. "He had a lot of blocks tonight, and Seginald (Bryant) had a lot of blocks tonight, too. When you have guys like that that can alter shots and you rebound it, it's big. That's part of our defense."
The Wampus Cats led 12-11 after the first quarter, and a steal-and-score by Carlos Sepulvedo with 2:25 to play in the half gave Leesville the 25-13 lead.
Sepulvedo led the Wampus Cats with 18 points, including a pair of 3s.
In the third quarter, a 3 pointer by Sepulvedo gave Leesville a 12-point lead, but Tioga finished the quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to five.
"We did control the pace, but we lost some composure," Grigg said. "We had a 12-point lead, and they cut it to one. We quit finding people and stopped making some shots that we normally make."
Scoring came at a premium in the fourth quarter, and Tioga got within one with 2:22 left on the clock.
Jamille Cannon scored on a fast break off a steal and assist from Seginald Bryant to put Leesville up three.
The Indians were forced to foul and sent the Wampus Cats to the line, where they knocked down 9-of-11 shots in the fourth to seal the win.
"That was the deciding factor in the game," Grigg said.
Tolbert and Cannon each added 10 points in the win, while Bryant was kept at bay offensively, scoring just six points.
No. 2 Leesville now sits at 21-3 and a perfect 3-0 in the district with wins over Tioga, Buckeye and DeRidder.
"The bad part about it is that everyone is chasing us with a purpose," Grigg said. "We were lucky to get DeRidder and Tioga at home first. Now, we have to go to DeRidder and Tioga. There are going to be battles there. Neither game is going to be easy.
"Last year, we would lose close ball games. After a period of time, these guys started figuring out how to win at the end and how to do the things to give us an opportunity to win. These guys have learned that this year. We've won some close ball games. Coming down the stretch, we've learned how to win games by hitting free throws and coming up with stops."