SURGE: Griffins advance to championship over Catholic

Peter Silas Pasqua
Dutchtown’s Devon Ester gathers a rebound over Catholic’s Brad Nelson and Anthony Brock in the the Griffins’ 44-40 victory at the Spartan Classic Tuesday night.

Dutchtown erased a 12-point second quarter deficit and scored the final four points to claim a 44-40 semifinal victory over Catholic Tuesday night in the Spartan Classic at EAHS’ gym.

The victory put the Griffins in the title game?Wednesday against West Jefferson, a 61-58 winner over Central Lafourche in the nightcap. The Griffins opened the tournament with a 60-38 victory over St. Amant Saturday.

“We made our surge at the right time,” Dutchtown head coach Patrick Hill said. “The game was competitive and could have went either way. Whether we are in the championship or not, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is we are getting three games out of this.”

Devon Ester scored the go ahead basket on a putback with 30 seconds remaining after sitting most of the first half in foul trouble.

“(Ester) hasn’t played a lot of basketball in his lifetime but as time goes by, he is getting better,” Hill said. “All of us are getting better. We don’t go deep but everybody that came off the bench played well enough for us. The main thing was adjusting to the tone of the game.”

Scott Burgess led the Griffins (7-6) with 17 points, while Terrence Cushenberry provided 14 and Ester had five.

Kevin Caire led Catholic (10-5) with 14 points, while Brad Nelson added eight and Cory Ferrara provided seven.

“We let their two best players make plays and they beat us,” Catholic head coach Michael Toups said. “(Burgess and Cushenberry) played very well. We didn’t stop them and we missed a lot of lay ups.

“It was a possession game and I would have preferred the game be faster to be honest but we were never really able to create that tempo. They did and the result was they won the game. It was very disappointing that we didn’t put the ball in the basket when we had opportunities at the rim.”

Caire fed Tanner Breaux for a 3-pointer on the left wing to open the contest before Jordon Biagas’ jumper. Greg Graugnard’s dish to Ferrara inside put the Bears back on top after the Griffins took the lead with free throws but Burgess’ putback gave Dutchtown a 7-6 lead going into the second quarter.

Catholic opened the frame on an 11-0 run capped by Caire’s free throws. Cushenberry’s baseline jumper ended the Griffins drought and Burgess followed with a baseline drive.

Brad Nelson’s free throw gave Catholic their biggest lead 25-13 after Caire and Breaux sandwiched dishes to Nelson inside around Cushenberry’s floater.

Back to back and one drives from Burgess and Dorian Williams preceded Cushenberry’s dish to Burgess inside. After Breaux fed Gill Walker down low, Biagas’ drive off a steal cut it to 28-23 at halftime.

Dutchtown opened the second half on a 9-0 run kickstarted by Cushenberry’s pull up jumper in the lane. Ester’s free throws put the Griffins ahead two minutes into the third quarter after Burgess’ putback and one.

Catholic closed out the quarter on a 6-0 run started by Caire’s turnaround jumper. Nelson’s putback and Greg Graugnard’s drive gave the Bears a 34-32 lead going into the fourth quarter after Ester blocked Caire’s transition lay up attempt just before the buzzer.

Caire’s reverse opened the final frame before Dutchtown went ahead on Burgess’ lane drive with 3:30 left to play after Cushenberry’s bank shot.

Cushenberry’s went coast to coast in transition before Caire fed Preston Pittman off an inbounds pass and drove in transition to knot it up 40-40.

Burgess’ free throws after stealing an inbounds pass with 9.6 second remaining reflected the final tally after Ester’s putback. Caire’s 3-pointer as time expired was well short just glazing the net.

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Dutchtown’s Terrence Cushenberry converts in between Catholic’s Preston Pittman and Greg Graugnard in the fourth quarter of the Griffins’ 44-40 semifinal victory at the Spartan Classic Tuesday night.