Varnado Wildcats victorious to begin Class 1A postseason play

Published 7:09 am Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Varnado used both the perimeter and the paint to beat Ascension Episcopal, 68-51, on Friday night in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs.

D.J. Jefferson led the fifth-seeded Wildcats with 26 points, including four 3-pointers. Delrick Abrams added 22 points, with eight of those points coming from dunks in the second half.

Armontee Kemp also hit double figures with 10 points, including two 3-pointers.

“I thought that maybe we came out a little too hyped up early in the game,” Varnado coach Brad Oestriecher said. “We settled down a bit and were able to finish strong.”

Varnado jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but Ascension battled back and tied the game at 8-8 with 3:04 left in the first quarter. The Wildcats continued to lead 14-10 at the end of the quarter, and took a 34-18 lead heading into halftime.

The 3-pointer was key for Varnado early. The Wildcats hit 11 field goals in the first half, and six of them were from behind the 3-point line. Jefferson hit three, Kemp added two and Errol Varnado knocked down one.

“D.J.’s shot was definitely going down tonight,” Oestriecher said. “He and Armontee were in rhythm.”

However, the No. 28-seeded Blue Gators did not go away quickly. Ascension cut the lead down to 44-37 at the end of the third quarter.

Abrams dunked with 2:54 left in the game to put Varnado back ahead 52-40, and the Wildcats never trailed by fewer than 10 the rest of the way. Varnado was 12-for-20 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

Oestriecher said Abrams’ dunks were more than just crowd pleasers.

“Even when he was a freshman, he’s had unbelievable energy, and it just gets better every year,” he said of Abrams. “He always gives me everything he has.”

Errol Varnado added six points for the Wildcats, and Andre Jones finished with four points.

Eli Mouton led Ascension with 26 points, including four 3-pointers. Ronald LeBlanc added 12 points for the Blue Gators.

Varnado played at No. 21 North Central in a second-round playoff game Tuesday night, but that game was not completed by press time.