LOUISIANA, Mo. — Prior to the start of Monday night’s Class 3 District 6 first-round game against Louisiana, the Mark Twain boys basketball team had already dealt with several challenges just to complete their season.

A young Tigers team was able to overcome those roadblocks after two coronavirus-related pauses, but they were unable to overcome Louisiana on Monday night with the Bulldogs earning a 71-35 victory. Louisiana (14-8) moves on to face Palmyra in the district semifinals on Wednesday.

Mark Twain head coach Jared Akright said the Tigers showed both flashes of immaturity and potential this season.

“This year was a roller coaster ride. 98 percent of our points come from sophomores and we had two COVID quarantines,” Akright said. “With our school being small like this, we need a lot more practice and time together. It just so happened to be, we didn’t get that.”

From the start of the game, Louisiana was scoring from both in the paint and from behind the arc.

“They have a good athletic team (that) can drive and they can get to the rim,” Akright said. “That was a big thing for us tonight. They were able to drive on us and get penetration and kick out for open three’s.”

That was not the only challenge for the Mark Twain defense, as the Bulldogs had several hot hands offensively. Louisiana had a total of nine different players score in Monday’s win.

Two of the key players for Louisiana were juniors Tramaine Chatman and Mason Washington. Chatman drained four 3-pointers on his way to a 15-point, eight-rebound performance. Washington was able to score in the paint and had 12 points and four rebounds.

The Bulldogs’ highest scorer came from the bench, with sophomore Jack Logan scoring 16 points.

“This is one of our better 3-point performances, but we are capable of shooting like that,” said Louisiana head coach Matt Smith. “Ryan Capps is our big kid and he always gives us an inside press. Then, our press gives us scoring outside. It was a team effort.”

As the game progressed, so did Louisiana’s lead. The Bulldogs increased their lead from nine points to 18 points from the end of the first quarter to halftime.

In the second half, Louisiana outscored Mark Twain by a 31-13 margin.

One bright spot for Mark Twain was the performance from sophomore Josh Brothers, who led the Tigers with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

With Brothers’ being a first-year starter, Akright sees the potential for him to improve going forward.

“This year, he has progressed every game into his role,” Akright said. “He’s going to get bigger and work out in the offseason. I expect more and more from him every year ... he’s just now figuring out the game of basketball.”

Now the Bulldogs set their sights on the Panthers and their semifinal showdown in Palmyra on Wednesday.

“Obviously, (Palmyra) is going to be extremely tough,” Smith said. “We already played them once this year. We are going to have to play really well to compete. I’m excited about the challenge.”

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