Off and running

Kyle Riviere @kyleR_sports
St. Amant's Kara Gremillion leads a fast-break in the Lady Gators' 43-42 first-round win over Lafayette. Photo by Dewey Keller.

It would have been easy for the St. Amant Lady Gators to pack it in and be satisfied with a first-round playoff appearance as they faced an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit Monday night, but they didn't.

Despite being behind most of the game and having to climb out of a late double-digit hole, St. Amant stormed back to beat defending state champion Lafayette in a 43-42 thriller. The scintillating finish not only sent the student section storming the court, but it put the Lady Gators into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

After the game, an emotional head coach Kristy Englade couldn't have been more proud of her team.

"With everything that we've been through for the season, it's all coming to light right now," Englade said. "It's almost like the girls were deflated for a while there, but it's amazing how they're able to pull through in adversity. You gotta give it to them; they played their butts off."

The No. 16 Lady Gators actually had the lead early but behind six points from Kortney Kling, Lafayette was able to surge to a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

From there, it was a constant up-hill battle for St. Amant. Kling nailed another jumper to stretch the lead to nine, and the Lafayette defense continued to lock down on the Lady Gators on the perimeter.

Things looked promising for St. Amant before the half as they ended the second quarter on an 8-0 run and cut the lead to 22-19. However, the Lady Lions started the second half on a 7-1 run to jump the lead back to nine points.

The advantage swelled out to 10 as the Lady Gators continued to struggle to mount any offense. They were held to only five points in the third, and all of those points came from the free-throw line.

Lafayette took a comfortable 34-24 lead into the fourth, and that's when business picked up.

The Lady Lions got the lead up to 11 when Jordan Hartman finally hit St. Amant's first field goal of the second half. A six-point Lady Gator flurry followed to cut the lead to five.

Lafayette had an answer. Taylor Payne nailed a 3-pointer in the corner to put the lead back at eight. It looked as if it would be the back-breaker, but St. Amant kept attacking.

Katrina Ledoux hit a trey of her own to cut the lead to five, and then Hartman put in work on both ends. She scored a lay-in and then made a steal on defense, got it out in transition to Jaci Lavigne, and Lavigne put in a lay-in to cut the Lady Lion lead down to one.

And after Kara Gremillion collected another St. Amant steal and raced downcourt for another lay-in, the Lady Gators had their first lead since the first quarter as the crowd erupted in jubilation.

Facing the 43-42 deficit, Lafayette had two chances to win the game, but Kling's two jumpers only drew iron. As the last one rimmed out, the St. Amant student section swarmed the court, and the Lafayette players collapsed to the ground in shocked demoralization.

"I think putting pressure on them and getting them in the press is really hit or miss," Englade said. "Is it gonna happen; is it not gonna happen? But I think the pressure forced them into some turnovers and in turn, I think we were able to capitalize on it."

Lafayette was led by Kling's 12 while Payne followed with 11--nine coming on three 3-pointers.

As for the Lady Gators, Hartman led the way with 16 while Lavigne complimented her well with 13 of her own.

The win puts St. Amant into the second round to play top-seeded Southwood on Thursday night. Regardless of the outcome, Englade couldn't be happier with all her team has accomplished this season.

"It's just amazing. It's been 12 years since the girl's basketball program has made it, and that's amazing," Englade said. "I give a lot of the credit to coach Darryl Langlois that has come in this year and helped with everything. It could have fallen apart, but he kept the train rolling in the right direction."