Every time it looked like the Indians were ready to make a run at the Gators, they answered with a big rally at the end of each quarter. Their best run came in the fourth, when a 10-point advantage ballooned to as many as 18.

Just two weeks ago, St. Amant raced out to a huge lead over Broadmoor in their season opener, just to see the big advantage gradually dwindle as they got sloppy offensively.

The Gators eventually lost a one-point heartbreaker.

St. Amant made sure they didn't suffer the same fate against Istrouma in their opener of the John "Hot Rod" Williams Gold Dome Classic on Thursday night.

Every time it looked like the Indians were ready to make a run at the Gators, they answered with a big rally at the end of each quarter. Their best run came in the fourth, when a 10-point advantage ballooned to as many as 18.

In the end, St. Amant walked away with a 68-51 victory.

"They're a tough team, and they play physical the full length of the court, and we did a pretty good job of handling that at the end," Gator head coach Travis Uzee said. "We finished some tough baskets around the rim. I'm proud of the way we played. A team that plays hard like them, we came out and played hard and matched their intensity."

An alley-oop from Gavim Harris to Destin Barker ignited the St. Amant offense in the first quarter. It completed a 6-0 run that gave them an 8-4 lead.

To end the period, Harris drove the base line and finished with a layup to put the Gators up 16-9.

A 3-pointer by Connor Adams and another layup by Harris bumped the St. Amant advantage up to 12, but Istrouma answered with a 9-2 run that got them within six.

However, Harris drilled a trey, and with the half winding down, he came up with a steal, raced down the court and made a layup at the buzzer to give the Gators a 32-20 lead at the break.

The third quarter was all St. Amant. A put-back by Harris opened up a 47-31 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

There, the lead got up to 18, but Istrouma made one final push. They went on an 11-3 run that cut the deficit to 10.

But Harris and St. Amant were too much. Harris added a coast-to-coast layup equipped with a free throw to push the Gator lead back to 18.

They eventually rolled to the 68-51 win.

In defeat, Rayvond Brown had a huge game for the Indians. Brown scored a game-high 27.

Harris led the way for St. Amant with 22 points. Adams was second in line with 13, and Barker added 10.

Both Javin Augillard and Kenyon Hebert scored six for the Gators.

The victory evened St. Amant's record up at 3-3.

"These first two weeks have been a little chaotic, and we haven't played our best basketball necessarily," Uzee said. "All these guys are assuming new roles and new ways to lead. I think this is going to be a learning process for them, and for us coaches. We're just going to have to keep trying to work hard and get better. I think this is a step in the right direction."

Coach Uzee was pleased with how his team was able to open the tournament.

"We talked about it this last week how we wanted to come to our home court, play well and have a good start to the week," Uzee said. "We have three tough games, and we're excited. The tournament has gone great so far, and we're excited to start off with a good win."