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Shots do not fall for Cats in loss

CHRIS SCHOONOVER | Sports Editor
Leesville Daily Leader

The Dragons controlled the paint in their 54-30 win over rival Leesville Friday night at DeRidder High School.

"What went right was that we had good execution on offense and were able to control the boards," DeRidder head coach Edwin Kelly said. "Our defense was a little above average. We made them turn the ball over, and the pressure tended to break them down as the game went on."

Leesville relies on its outside shooting, but the shots weren't falling against DeRidder.

"We're a jump shooting and small team, so when we get down by 10 or 12 points, it hurts us because we don't have the size to rebound," Leesville head coach Rickie Dixon said. "Our shot wasn't falling tonight. We couldn't get a consistent flow of shots going. Our size, down the stretch, was a big factor."

DeRidder got out to a 8-0 lead, but Leesville guard Carlos Pagan-Sepulvado got the Wampus Cats back into the game, scoring all nine points for them in the first quarter.

Pagan-Sepulvado led Leesville with 18 points.

"He's been our best player all season," Dixon said. "That trust had to be built up, because early on, it was a me-thing. Now he understands what we're looking for and what we expect out of him."

Leesville took its first lead of the game early in the second with a 3-pointer by Quantavius Williams to make it 12-10.

However, DeRidder (8-15, 1-0) quickly retook the lead and had a 19-17 advantage at the break.

With 1:25 to play in the third quarter, DeRidder stretched its lead to 33-23 after a layup by Kendrick Staten.

"We wanted to have better execution and to be more patient in the second half," Kelly said. "We were able to do that."

Leading 33-26 to start the fourth, the Dragons went on a 9-2 run to start the quarter to put the game away.

Michael Breeland led DeRidder with 18 points – 15 coming in the second half. Friday night was Breeland's second game back after missing time with an injury.

"He's a huge bonus for us," Kelly said. "We definitely missed his presence. Not only is he a big guy, but he has always had a shooter's touch. He makes really good passes for a big guy."

KJ Gooden had 11 points, and DJ Griffin added nine while providing a presence on defense in the paint.

"DJ has improved a lot, offensively," Kelly said. "His skills in the post are starting to mature. He defends well and is making improvements all around."