St. Amant stifles Spartans for Tiger Classic title

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant’s Brandon Morris blocks East Ascension’s Quinn Coco’s shot attempt in the second quarter of the Gators’ 62-47 victory in the championship game of the Tiger Classic Saturday evening at Donaldsonville High School. Morris finished with a game-high 14 points.

DONALDSONVILLE - St. Amant’s defense held East Ascension to just eight points in both the second and third quarters as the Gators claimed the Tiger Classic XII Championship with a 62-47 victory in the title game Saturday evening at Donaldsonville High School’s gym.

“We are playing very good defense,” St. Amant head coach Gary Duhe said. “We played very good basketball tonight. We came out at the beginning of the third quarter and really established the tempo. To me, that is when championship teams win. When you come out after half-time and establish the way you need to play.

“East Ascension is very good and very well coached. They are very similar to us. We play the same style. We just did a good job of guarding them and making them earn their shots. That was the key tonight.”

St. Amant opened the third quarter with a 11-6 run and never looked back.

“In the second and third quarter, they outscored us bad,” East Ascension head coach Kenny Almond said. “They played good defense. They are the best defensive team we have played so far. We are not as well-coached as they are right now. We just have to get better.

“We made bad shot selection decisions and got in a situation where we couldn’t score, which meant we couldn’t press. We really couldn’t play the defense we wanted to because we couldn’t score. That was a game changer.”

Brandon Morris led the St. Amant (2-0) with 14 points, while Bruce Mathison added 11 points and Rashaun Claiborne had 10. Steve Fulkerson provided nine, Nick Morris had eight, Jacob Gautheir added six and Jeff St. Pierre had two.

Ferrell Strode led East Ascension (2-1) with 10 points, while Keith Fleming and Corey Lane each provided eight. Gary Weber added six, Kerry Weber and Kenny Varnado provided four and Quinn Coco and Bobby Madere each had three.

East Ascension used a 10-0 run in the first quarter to go ahead 12-5. Gary Weber fed Strode for a 3-pointer on the right wing and Kerry Weber in transition before hitting Strode inside after Coco passed to Kerry Weber for a jumper.

“Good teams go on runs,” Duhe said. “They went on a little run and then we went on one and started executing our offense. They did a good job of making us play a little too fast early. Once we started running our offense and getting it to the right people in the right spot, we scored.”

Fulkerson’s spin and one ended the run before Brandon Morris’ lay up off a steal. Brandon Morris’ free throws made it 14-12 going into the second quarter after Strode’s putback.

Brandon Morris fed Claiborne inside in transition to open the second stanza before Lane’s dish to Fleming down low. Mathison and Gary Weber traded jumpers before Claiborne’s putback and jumper put St. Amant ahead 20-19 with 2:01 left to play. Gauthier’s putback and Mathison’s dish to Fulkerson inside and one preceded Brandon Morris’ lay-up in transition to close out the half with the Gators ahead 27-22.

Brandon Morris opened the second half with a dunk in transition before Mathison and Fulkerson each dished to Nick Morris for 3-pointers on opposite wings and Claiborne’s turnaround jumper made it 37-25. Gary Weber’s 3-pointer from the left corner preceded Mathison’s 19-footer from the right corner and one with 1:09 left in the quarter. Fleming’s put back cut it to 42-30 going into the final stanza.

Mathison’s putback opened the fourth quarter before Brandon Morris’ pulled up in the lane to give the Gators their biggest lead 47-30 with 5:33 left to play. Lane’s 3-pointer from Strode preceded Varnado’s up and under before Brandon Morris’ penetrating dish to Gautheir inside. Lane’s 3-pointer and Varnado’s free throws cut it to 50-40 with 3:50 left to play but Gautheir fed Fulkerson inside and one.

Gary Weber fed Strode on the right wing and Madere in the left corner for 3-pointers to cut it to 56-47 but Brandon Morris, St. Pierre and Mathison each hit two free throws down the stretch for St. Amant.

“The strength of our team is experience, especially our ball handlers,” Duhe said. “When people press us, we feel like that is an advantage for us if we execute. We can split the double team and get it to the open guy. To win championships, you have to make free throws down the stretch and we did a good job.”

East Ascension advanced to the championship game by defeating White Castle, 78-47, in the semifinals Thursday. Fleming led the Spartans with 17 points, while Strode added 12 and Kerry Weber provided 10. Generra Varmall led White Castle with 22.

St. Amant advanced to the title game with an 81-63 victory over H.L. Bourgeois in the semifinals Thursday. Brandon Morris led the Gators with 32 points, while Nick Morris provided 14 and Fulkerson had 10.

St. Amant’s Nick Morris and Steve Fulkerson defend East Ascension’s Keith Fleming Saturday evening.