Spartans advance past Brother Martin

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s Kenny Varnado goes up for a putback attempt over Brother Martin’s Drew Scheincek in the first quarter of the Spartans’ 73-61 Class 5A bi-district playoff victory Friday night.

East Ascension used a 10-2 run to close out the first half and never looked back on way to a 73-61 Class 5A bi-district playoff victory over Brother Martin Friday night at EAHS’ gym.

“I thought we started nervous,” East Ascension head coach Kenny Almond said. “It was the first game of the playoffs and we were excited to play but maybe a little too excited. We shot too fast and that was a problem.”

“We have a good team. There are a lot of individuals that have come together as a group. It was a big win and we are excited about winning.”

No. 13 seed East Ascension (27-9) advances to face fourth-seeded St. Thomas More (36-4) Tuesday night at STM’s gym at 7 p.m. Brother Martin ends the season with an 18-11 overall record.

“(EA is a) very good team and very well coached,” Brother Martin head coach Scott Thompson said. “We thought a zone could give them problems but they really have so many weapons. They rebounded the ball well and I thought their pressure created problems for us. They moved the basketball well on offense, there were mismatches and certainly the big guy made a difference when he came into the game.”

“It just seemed like our shot selection could have been better but ultimately we couldn’t get stops when we needed to. Credit them for coming up with defensive plays. They were getting their hands on the ball and played a real physical game. Ultimately they were able to put the ball in the basket and we weren’t, especially at the free throw line.”

East Ascension was led by Quinn Coco with 15 points. Gary Weber added 14, while Kenny Varnado contributed 13, Keith Fleming provided nine, Ferrell Strode had eight and Corey Lane and Kerry Weber each chipped in seven.

“We spread it out,” Almond said. “We made a big play at the end of the third quarter when Keith Fleming got a rebound and found an outlet, then tipped in a missed lay-up. That was a big play and he got a couple of offensive rebounds for us tonight. We have been wanting that from him and tonight, he came off the bench big.

“When Gary Weber plays well, we are tough and hard to beat. Quinn came up with some big shots and free throws. Kenny just gives you everything he’s got. He got a couple one on one steals. We know what we are getting out of Kenny and that is everything that he can give us, every night.”

Shane Rillieaux led all scorers with 16 points for Brother Martin. Jamon Gray and Patrick Swilling each had 12 and Drew Scheincek added 11.

Swilling and Gary Weber traded drives to open the contest before Coco’s lay up off a steal and pull up jumper put EA ahead 6-2. Rilleaux’s jumper and Swilling’s 3-pointer from the right wing put the Crusaders ahead before Michael Henderson gave them an 11-6 lead with four straight points.

Lane’s dish to Varnado inside knotted it up 12-12 going into the second quarter after Coco’s baseline drive and Varnado’s transition bucket.

Swilling’s 3-pointer from the left wing put Brother Martin ahead 17-12 in the second frame before Gary Weber’s jumper and Coco’s lay up off a steal. Fleming entered the ball game with 5:13 left to play in the half after Rilleaux’s jumper and hit the first of two free throws to cut it to three points after Swilling’s drive.

Coco’s dish to Varnado off a steal preceded Rilleaux’s penetrating dish to Gray and putback before Coco nailed a 19 footer and Varnado converted a lay up off a steal. Gary Weber’s drive and one with 16 seconds remaining gave East Ascension a 30-27 half-time lead after three free throws from Scheincek. East Ascension had already gone ahead 27-24 on Lane’s putback and one with 46 seconds remaining.

The Spartans increased the lead to 50-43 heading into the final stanza with six third quarter points from Kerry Weber despite Scheincek’s eight and got seven from Fleming in the fourth quarter to win by 12.

East Ascension’s Corey Lane converts a putback while being fouled by Brother Martin’s Jamon Gray in the second quarter. Lane’s subsequent free throw put the Spartans ahead 27-24 with 46 remaining in the half.