Victoria College thought Saturday would be a winnable game despite dressing only six players.
Instead, the Pirates missed seven free throws and were unable to capitalize on 21 forced turnovers in a 95-90 Region XIV loss to Bossier Parish Community College at the VC Sports Center.
It was the Cavaliers’ (9-6, 1-5) first conference win of the year while VC (2-14) fell to 1-4 in Region XIV.
“We missed seven free throws and lost by five,” said VC head coach Donte Davis. “You’re going to have (turnovers), but when you’re at home, you should be able to shoot 90% from the line. We weren’t able to do that. So that hurts more than the turnovers.”
Sophomore Markhi Strickland, a 6-foot-6 sophomore transfer from St. Louis University and son of former NBA player Mark Strickland, wanted to use his experience to lead the way for the Pirates.
“I feel the scoring aspect really isn’t a big thing,” Strickland said. “Just stepping up, talking on the court, having everybody on defense, directing people where they need to go is really big.”
Strickland scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the first half as VC entered the break tied with the Cavaliers at 41-41. He also collected six rebounds.
“He’s come from where (his teammates) dream of going,” Davis said. “So to have him here and then be able to say, ‘I’m going to set the standard,’ and me to be able to lean on him and say, ‘This is what the standard is. I need you to stay at that standard, not just for you to leave, but for these freshmen to follow,’ is big. It’s big having him here as long as he can give me that effort every single night.”
He, Elijah Smith (19) and Jaleen Goodman (18) set the pace as the Pirates had five of their six players reach double figures.
“Our practice is designed like the game, so we’re in pretty good shape going up and down the floor,” Goodman said. “But as far as our guys, we just had to have a bigger role, and step up and play.”
Strickland’s choice to attend VC was questioned by many. But he’s found fun in basketball again since joining the Pirates.
“Coming here, playing with these guys and competing with them is just fun,” Strickland said. “Basketball is serious, to an extent. But you still have to have fun playing it. Enjoying it, that’s how you love the game.”
VC struggled to stop Bossier Parish behind the 3-point line in the first half, allowing the visitors to shoot 62.5% on eight attempts. The Cavaliers were 1 of 4 from 3-point in the second half.
Davis wanted to defend the interior since the Cavaliers would try to lean heavily on their 7-foot sophomore post Hugo Clarkin.
“The last three games they played, they shot under 20% (from 3-point),” Davis said. “So we said, ‘You know what, we’re gonna live with them shooting the 3’s.’ We don’t want their big (to succeed) because we don’t have anybody 7-foot-tall.
“In the first half, I think we didn’t do a great job of it; they were 5 for 8. But in the second half, I think we did a better job of it. It’s just the missed free throws and the turnovers.”
Region XIV basketball
Bossier Parish 95, Victoria College 90
Points: (BP) Elijah Beard 17, Kendrick Delahoussaye 15, Damani Claxton 14, Hugo Clarkin 10; (VC) Markhi Strickland 27, Elijah Smith 19, Jaleen Goodman 18, Kaelon Harkema 11.
Halftime: Tied 41-41. 3-pointers: (BP) Beard 3, Logan Turner, Sheldon Schuler 2; (VC) Strickland 3, Smith 3, Goodman, Williams 2, Harkema. Records: Bossier Parish 9-6, 1-5; Victoria College 2-14, 1-4.