ANACOCO – After getting out to a big lead, the physical defense of Rapides put Anacoco on its heels.
Despite a double-digit advantage, the Indians had to hit shots down the stretch to hold on to their regular season finale with a 65-59 win Tuesday night at home.
"We came out looking pretty good and aggressive," Anacoco head coach Brad Prichard said. "We looked good on defense and were owning the boards at the beginning of the game. We kind of slacked off and settled."
The win puts Anacoco at 12-24 on the season, a far cry from where it was last season.
"We've almost quadrupled our wins from last year," Prichard said. "The thing is playing better team ball. We are in it together. When we do that, it looks good, and I think, tonight, we did that. The difference is us sharing the ball and loving to play with each other."
Anacoco will have to go on the road in the first round and was most recently ranked at No. 19 in the Power Rankings.
Tied up at 6 early in the game, Anacoco went on 13-0 run in the first quarter to lead 19-6 with under two minutes to play.
In an attempt to slow down the 3 pointers from the Indians, Rapides went to a man-to-man defense and found success with its pressure.
The Mustangs ripped off a 13-4 run to pull within 6 and trailed 35-30 at halftime.
"We are going to have to get used to that kind of play," Prichard said. "We haven't faced it too much, just a couple of times at the beginning of the season. They were getting up in us and riding that hip. We weren't used to it. It was good for us, though. We have to learn how to protect the ball a little bit better."
The Indians extended its lead to 11 early in the third quarter after a layup by Zack Benevage.
Once again, Rapides – which is ranked No. 16 in Class 2A – had an answer, cutting the lead to 3.
With under a minute to play, the Mustangs trailed 59-57, but the Anacoco hit enough free throws down the stretch.
The Indians went 13-for-16 from the stripe in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Jordan Martin led Anacoco with 20 points and has been the catalyst for his team this season.
"We have to get him the ball," Prichard said. "If he touches it inside and has good finishes, everything works better. They will collapse on him, and we have shooters."
Landry Alligood hit four 3s en route to 15 points, and Noah Carroll added 14 in the win.