DERIDDER – Leesville jumped out to an early and never looked back against district rival DeRidder.
The No. 2 Wampus Cats move to 24-3 on the year with their 69-58 win Friday night at DeRidder High School.
"I think we played another full ball game," Leesville head coach Troy Grigg said. "We played together as a team. We did a few indecisive things in the first half to let them hang around a lot longer than we wanted to. Overall, we played 32 minutes of Leesville basketball."
DeRidder (12-16, 2-3) struggled with foul trouble early which led to head coach Edwin Kelly having to change up his rotations.
"We came in with the mindset to win," Kelly said. "We knew we could beat them, however, we stayed in foul trouble the entire game. When two teams have a similar type of style and pressure, it's hard to figure out the disparity between the two teams.
"It's difficult for the kids to overcome that. We struggled with that."
Leesville led 14-9 after the first quarter, but DeRidder pulled within one in the second quarter with a layup by Michael Breland.
"In a rivalry game like this and where we are in districts, you throw the records out," Grigg said. "It's just two teams competing as rivals. In the first half, their adrenaline was up, just like ours."
The Wampus Cats ended the second quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 33-25 lead into the break.
In the third quarter, Leesville outscored DeRidder 18-15, and increased the lead to 56-40 with 6:44 to play.
The Wampus Cats would not let the Dragons back into the game, as they move to a 6-0 in district play.
Joshua Colvin led DeRidder with 17 points, and Breland added 11 while forward Derron Griffen put in 10.
"It's been a slow steady process with the kids learning the system at this level and understanding it's different than playing at the JV level," Kelly said.
"What I told the kids is that this is part of life. Sometimes things don't go according to plan, and sometimes things are tough. You just have to learn to overcome adversity."
Carlos Sepulveda, who wore a protective face mask for parts of the game, paced Leesville with 14 points, and Duwon Tolbert (13) and Deondre Wilson (12) each finished in double figures.
"Carlos actually controlled the offense for us," Grigg said. "He did a great job. He felt like the mask obstructed him somewhat and fogged up a bit. He did a good job of controlling things and getting the ball to open people.
"If we're balanced in scoring and everybody is involved, we're playing our basketball."
The Wampus Cats take on Tioga Tuesday night for a chance to clinch the district title for the first time since 2014-15.
"It's a bigger game than this because of what it is," Grigg said. "They have one loss in district, and we don't have any. We have to go in there and withstand a high-intensity defense and physical play that they allow there, and hopefully, they let us be as physical as they are."