There’s something about this year’s Liberty-Eylau Leopards that brings out the best in the Paris Wildcats’ offense. The same Cat attack that could only convert 15% of their shots 10 days ago in an embarrassing 31-22 loss at home to North Lamar managed a 51% showing from the field (29 of 57 shooting) coupled with 81% free throw rate (17 of 21) to hold off the Leopards on their Senior Night Friday at the Rader Dome, 75-71.
In other district action Friday, Pleasant Grove edged North Lamar, 46-43, and Pittsburg beat Atlanta, 60-53. PG (7-2) wrapped up the district’s No. 1 seed with the win, while Paris (6-3) takes sole possession of second place. NL (5-4) falls to third, while L-E and Pitt are tied for fourth with 4-5 marks.
Paris hosts Pitt Tuesday in the Wildcat Gym to close out the regular season, while NL travels to L-E and PG is at Atlanta. The Cats will be the district’s No. 2 playoff seed unless they lose to Pitt and NL beats L-E. Under that scenario, Paris and NL would meet to determine the second and third playoff spots.
All five Paris starters scored in double figures Friday as the Cats managed the second highest offensive output of their 17-13 season. Their best team point showing came in a 78-57 out of the Leopards on Jan. 23 in the Wildcat Gym when Paris shot a sizzling 60% from the field.
Sophomore 6-4 post-Trevon Dennis took advantage of an undersized Leopard frontcourt to score 23 points and grab 8 rebounds to lead Paris. Sophomore Trea Johnson added 15, including a perfect 7 of 7 from the foul line. Senior Jordan Mitchell scored 11, while sophomore Jameon Mitchell and junior Cameron Jones had 10 each.
Decorian Phillips scored a game-high 27 points to top the Leopards, who drained seven 3-pointers (compared to none for Paris).
The Leopards (11-12) started cold from the field as Paris took a 14-6 first quarter lead and extended the margin to 20-6 with 6:04 left in the second quarter. L-E closed the gap to 26-23 at halftime and briefly took a pair of one-point leads in the third quarter.
However, the Cats broke away from a 36-all tie to close the third quarter on an 18-7 run to open up a 54-43 lead heading into the final period. L-E managed to shave the Cats’ lead to a single point, 71-70, with 1:54 remaining before Paris protected the lead in the closing minutes.
Paris swept the sub-varsity games. The Cats JV won, 50-47, and the freshmen won 71-28