EA pulls away from Central in second half

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s Corey Lane pump fakes Central’s Josh Veals into the air Thursday night in the Spartans’ 66-39 victory.

ST. AMANT - No. 3 ranked East Ascension closed out the first half on a 12-4 run and never looked back on way to a 66-39 victory over Central in the opening game of the first day of a District Challenge between 5-5A and 6-5A Thursday night at the Gold Dome. 

“I didn’t think we would win by that margin,” East Ascension head coach Kenny Almond said. “ I don’t think that was their best game but I hope we had something to do with that. In the third, I thought we guarded real well. We kind of stopped their offense and as the game went on we finally relaxed. It was such a quiet gym and I kept telling them we had to make our own excitement.  For awhile, all we had was a missed dunk.”

East Ascension (23-2) – who defeated Central 77-50 in the Grady Hornsby Classic in November – moved on to defeat Catholic 65-57 Friday night in the second day of the District Challenge at Catholic High. The Spartans look to extend an 11-game winning streak when they open district play Tuesday at Dutchtown.

“Right before it, you get real anxious in anticipation,” Almond said. “I told our kids to take a little pride. We had one good showing and now we get to see if we can sustain that. That is what you have to do in district.”

Cory Lane, Ferrell Strode and Gary Weber each scored 13 points, while Quinn Coco added 12 and Keith Fleming nine to pace East Ascension’s balanced scoring attack.

Central (11-11) was led by Josh Veals with 10 points. Brock Poydras and Joe Cutno each added six.

“We felt like we were in the game,” Central head coach Wes Watts said.  “They made a little run to start the second half and we just kind of collapsed and could never recover from it. It was all about us but I give them all the credit. We couldn’t handle how well they played. They are very good.”

Poydras fed Danny Sumner for a 3-pointer in the left corner to give Central their final lead 15-13 before Weber’s pull up 19-footer near the top of the key and Strode’s put back put the Spartans ahead. Lane’s pull up jumper preceded Veals reverse before Lane fed Strode inside and Kenny Varnado passed to Coco in transition. Wes Briscoe’s inside bucket cut it to 25-19 at half-time.

“In the second half we got into our 2-2-1 press,” Almond said. “We didn’t get a lot of steals out of it but it looked like it threw them out of sync a little bit and we played half court defense pretty good.”

Lane scored the first seven points of the second half for East Ascension including a top of the key 3-pointer which sandwiched Cutno’s spin. Fleming’s put back preceded Weber’s turnaround and Strode’s put back to give the Spartans a 39-23 lead. East Ascension ended the stanza on a 7-0 run courtesy of Strode’s drive and one, Weber’s lay up off a steal and Coco’s free throws to make it 46-27 going into the final frame.

Weber’s dish to Coco off a steal put East Ascension ahead 52-28 after Lane’s dish to Fleming in transition. Strode and Coco’s inside buckets preceded Weber’s floater. Kerry Weber and Cameron Lodge added a drive and jumper in the closing minutes for the Spartans.

Gary Weber fed Fleming inside to open the contest before Briscoe’s 3-pointer from the right wing and Veals’ baseline drive. Fleming’s dish to Strode inside preceded Veals’ penetrating pass to Cutno but Gary Weber nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to knot it up 7-7. Briscoe’s dish to a slashing Poydras gave the Wildcats their biggest lead before Lane and Weber’s pull up jumper knotted it up 11-11 going into the second quarter.

Lane nailed four 3-pointers in the first quarter for East Ascension and Coco scored 10 second quarter points as the Spartans took a 36-21 half-time lead over Catholic Friday.

East Ascension’s Quinn Coco converts a lay up over Central’s Wes Briscoe in the first half of the Spartans’ 66-39 victory Thursday night.