St. Amant holds off Spartans’ rally in season rubber match

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s Keith Fleming is guarded by St. Amant’s Rashaun Claiborne in the fourth quarter of the Gators’ 75-63 victory Friday night.

St. Amant used a 9-3 run to end the game during a 75-63 victory over East Ascension Friday night at EAHS’ gym.

“It was a great win in this environment for us,” St. Amant head coach Gary Duhe said. “We are going to have to win a game on the road in the playoffs if we want to keep advancing and this has prepared us for it. We got one week left in the season and we have a shot to win the district championship and that has been our goal since April.”

The contest marked the fifth time East Ascension and St. Amant have played each other this season. St. Amant defeated the Spartans in the Tiger Classic Championship before East Ascension returned the favor in the Gold Dome Classic and Spartan Classic title games. The Gators sweep the district series between the teams.

“We are not worried about winning the Ascension Parish championship,” Duhe said. “We want to win the state championship and there are 63 other parishes. It would be great if we played them a sixth time in the Cajundome. There would be more jambalaya pots in Lafayette than you know what to do with.”

St. Amant led by as many 14 early in the second quarter before East Ascension cut the lead to two with 5:43 left to play.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Duhe said. “The key was the first four minutes of the game. We had to come out hard and strong and get a lead to show them we weren’t intimidated playing here. We forced them to play catch up and knew they would but we refused to lose.”

Brandon Morris led all scorers for St. Amant with 26 points. Rashaun Claiborne added 19, while Bruce Mathison provided 14 and Nick Morris had eight.

“Brandon and Rashaun are going to get theirs,” Duhe said. “We won the game in the second quarter getting minutes off the bench when Bruce picked up his second foul. The bench enabled us to save Bruce so that he could be on the court at the end of the game. He is so valuable. We run everything through him.”

Quinn Coco led East Ascension with 21 points. Corey Lane added 17, while Ferrell Strode provided 10, Keith Fleming had seven and Gary Weber contributed six.

“I thought we did it to ourselves,” East Ascension head coach Kenny Almond said. “We got too excited and didn’t let our offense develop by taking too many quick shots. They shot lights out the whole game and we dug a pretty deep hole. They have a good basketball team and we have played some pretty good teams this year. ”

Kenny Varnado’s lay up off Fleming’s steal cut it to 61-58 with 1:54 left to play before Brandon Morris’ put back and Mathison’s free throws. Coco’s spin but the Spartans missed two free throws with 53 seconds remaining.

“We missed two free throws and then didn’t block out on the other end and came back down and threw it away,” Almond said. “That is when it turned because we were coming back and it if flipped right there. That was a key point in the game.”

Coco’s jumper reflected the final tally after Nick Morris’ putback and Brandon Morris’ free throws.

Claiborne’s tip opened the second half before Mathison and Jacob Gauthier’s jumpers. East Ascension scored six straight points to cut it to 46-39 on Fleming’s inside bucket and one and Coco’s lane drive in transition. Mathison’s drive with three seconds remaining put the Gators ahead 52-45 going into the final stanza after Coco’s drive, Fleming’s free throws and Varnado’s drive.

“(Fleming) needs to be a force for us,” Almond said. “He has to understand that we need him and he played well once he got in there.”

Lane’s consecutive pull up jumpers cut it to 52-50 but Brandon Morris scored the Gators’ next seven points. Coco and Lane’s free throws cut to 61-56.

East Ascension never led with the Gators going ahead for good on Mathison’s drive after Brandon Morris fed Fulkerson inside to open the contest. Strode’s reverse cut it to 7-5 after Nick Morris’ 19 footer. Nick Morris fed Claiborne inside to make it 16-11 going into the second quarter after Lane and Coco traded assists to each other.

Mathison scored the first five points of the second quarter before dishing to Brandon Morris inside to give St. Amant a 26-11 lead. Lane’s 3-pointer from the left wing preceded putbacks from Strode and Claiborne. Lane’s put back just before the buzzer cut it to 40-30 at half-time after two drives from Coco. Claiborne’s 3-pointer and inside bucket after Strode’s putback and one put St. Amant ahead 38-24.

St.?Amant’s Steve Fulkerson scores the opening basket in St. Amant’s 75-63 victory Friday night over East Ascension’s Ferrell?Strode.