EA’s shooting spells doom for Airline in?Gold Dome Classic semifinals

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s DeAndre Smith converts a drive ahead of Airline’s Leon Carswell III to put the Spartans ahead 30-20 in their 82-67 victory in the semifinals of the Gold?Dome Classic Thursday evening.

ST. AMANT – East Ascension took advantage of hot shooting to build a 12-point halftime lead which  continued  in the third quarter before converting free throws down the stretch for an 82-67 victory over Airline in the semifinals of the Gold Dome Classic Friday night.

The Spartans led by as many as 22 hitting nine 3-pointers overall and going 19-of-24 from the free throw line.

 “That was a pretty good performance,” East Ascension head coach Kenny Almond said. “The first half was probably as good of basketball that we have played since we beat Ruston two years ago. We still have some things we need to work on. We got a little ragged with their press. Airline is a great team but we are really proud with how guys are playing right now and I hope that we can keep this up.”

Keith Fleming and DeAndre Smith each had 19 points for the Spartans (7-2), while Curtis Watts added 16, Tyler Wright provided 14 and Donald LeBlanc had 10.

Demetrius Early led Airline (7-2) with 14 points, while Tony Addison added 12 and Josh Hagins and Hayden Hildebrand each provided eight.

“They shot the lights out,” Airline head coach Chris White said. “We were in their face and they were still making it. We dug ourselves too big of a hole to come back and they are too good of a team to get that far behind. They are very well coached and well disciplined. They run their offense until they get the shot they want.”

Addison’s 3-pointer and inside bucket put the Vikings ahead 5-0 to open the contest before Wright  traded a 3-pointer with him from the top of the key. Wright’s 19-footer preceded Fleming’s pass to Smith for a 3-pointer on the left wing.

Wright and Watts exchanged dishes to each other for 3-pointers on opposite wings to give the Spartans their first lead 14-12 before Hagins’ floater but Smith’s 3-pointer from the right wing put East Ascension ahead for good.

Fleming’s drive and Watt’s layup off a steal opened the second quarter to make it 25-17. Smith’s drive and dish to LeBlanc off a steal made it 32-20 after LeBlanc’s lane drive and Watts’ pass to Smith for a 3-pointer from the right wing.

Watts’ pull up in the lane and Bobby Madere’s putback preceded Addison’s 19-footer from the top of the key.?After Wright and Blaine Miller traded 3-pointers, Hagins fed Early off a steal before Fleming’s baseline drive made it 41-29 at halftime.

Fleming’s putback made it 48-34 after Jared Henderson’s putback and Smith’s 3-pointer from the right wing opened the second half.

The Spartans took their biggest lead 58-36 on Watts’ contested 3-pointer after Hagins fed John Thomas inside following LeBlanc’s baseline drive and one and Watt’s jumper.

Early’s lay up off a steal cut it to 58-42 to open the fourth quarter before LeBlanc traded dishes to Fleming and Smith around Hildebrand’s drive and one.

Hildebrand’s 3-pointer from the right wing cut it to 66-52 after Fleming’s putback but Watts fed Smith in transition and the Spartans converted 10 free throws down the stretch.

East Ascension defeated Terrebonne 78-67 in the quarterfinals?Thursday night. Watts led the Spartans with 23 points, while Fleming added 16, Wright had 13 and Smith provided 12.

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East Ascension's Keith Fleming