St. Amant profits from quick start to stave off Destrehan

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant’s Brandon Morris drives lane ahead of Destrehan’s Wyndrick Smothers in the closing seconds of the first quarter of the Gators’ 64-60 victory Tuesday night.

ST. AMANT – St. Amant nailed five first-half three pointers to take a 14-point lead and nailed five free throws in the closing minute to hold off Destrehan for a 64-60 District 6-5A victory Tuesday night at the Gold Dome.

“I thought this was a tremendous team victory for us,” St. Amant head coach Gary Duhe said. “It is very important to get a lead at home because you put the pressure on the other team.

“We were able to play most of the second quarter with three starters on the bench and kept the lead. We have developed some depth and that is the strength of our team which will be very important in the playoffs.”

It was St. Amant’s third consecutive district victory and now sit alone in third place in standings with three games remaining. Hahnville and East St. John sit atop standing with 5-2 marks.

“We knew before district started that it was going to be tough opening on the road over there with the difference in officiating. We knew we had a stretch of home games that was crucial for us to win if we want to win district. We have done that. We are playing very well in a very good league. Playing these people night in and night out are preparing everyone for the playoffs.”

St. Amant was led by Brandon Morris with 22 points. Rashaun Claiborne added 16, while Bruce Mathison had 11, Nick Morris provided 10 and Steve Fulkerson contributed seven.

Roosevelt Johnson led all scorers with 25 points. Kevin Smothers added 16.

“They took care of their home court advantage and shot the ball well,” Destrehan head coach Todd Bourg said. “You are supposed to shoot lights out when you play at home. We had too many turnovers and didn’t run our offense in the first half. The second half, we ran our sets and they had a hard time stopping us.

“We made a good run at the end but we gave up too many easy baskets. Dribble penetration down the middle of the lane just killed us tonight. What beat us was we didn’t take care of the paint defensively. We let them go to the hole all night long.”

Nick Morris fed Mathison for a 3-pointer on the left wing to open the contest before Destrehan went ahead 5-3 on B.J. Singleton’s inside buckets and one. Mathison then found Brandon Morris for consecutive 3-pointers from the top of the key and the left wing to put St. Amant ahead of good. Claiborne’s tip put the Gators ahead 15-7 going into the second quarter after his inside bucket and putback preceded Smother’s drive.

Brandon Morris pump faked a 19-footer to open the stanza before Johnson’s putback and Wyndrick Smother’s drive in transition. Consecutive 3-pointers from Nick Morris and Brandon Morris preceded Johnson’s putback before Claiborne’s inside bucket and putback gave St. Amant their biggest lead 27-13 with 3:47 left in the half. Paul Williams’ 3-pointer cut it to single digits despite Brandon Morris’ lay up in transition and one after Sean Palmer’s 3-pointer and Akeen Sumlin’s 19-footer. St. Amant led 31-21 at half-time.

Johnson’s put back with 31.1 seconds remaining cut it to 61-56 after Mathison hit two free throws. An inside bucket from Johnson after a free throw by Brandon Morris cut it to four but Mathison nailed two free throws with 15.9 seconds remaining. Smothers’ putback at the buzzer reflected the final tally.

“I thought Bruce penetrated when we needed to at crucial times,” Duhe said. “Brandon is so quick that he can drive at any time and made some pretty passes to Steve who finished at the rim, which we have been working on. During the course of the game, different guys stepped up. I thought our balanced scoring made a difference.”

St. Amant’s Nick Morris reaches for a rebound over Destrehan’s Ryan Derbes in the closing seconds Tuesday.