St. Amant rolls to playoff victory in Gold Dome

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
St. Amant’s Jah’leel Ester scored 13 points in the Gators’ first-round playoff victory over Southside.

Prior to Friday night, the last time St. Amant won a playoff game, they didn't have the pleasure of doing so in the Gold Dome.

Due to the damages the Great Flood of 2016 caused to the gym, the Gators were forced to play their first-round game at Dutchtown.

Three years later, St. Amant has tasted postseason victory once again, and this time, they were able to do it in the friendly confines of the Gold Dome. And though it wasn't the usual packed house due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was still as loud and boisterous as ever.

It was the first time St. Amant won a true home playoff game since 2009.

The Gators were tied with Southside at halftime, but a huge second half propelled them to an impressive 68-52 victory.

"Before the season, our goal was to try to get into the playoffs. The next goal was to have a home game," St. Amant head coach Travis Uzee said. "And we got the opportunity for one in the Gold Dome. This is a great group of kids that worked really hard last week to prepare for a really good team. I don't know if I've been more proud of a group of kids as I am for this one. They've been so resilient and tough."

But the Gators fell into a hole early on. They found themselves down eight in the first quarter. However, they trimmed the deficit to two at the end of the period.

St. Amant fought its way back and after a steal and layup by Colby Ester, they took a three-point lead. But Southside drilled a trey in the waning seconds of the half to tie the game at 26 at the break.

The second half belonged to St. Amant.

The Gators went on a 12-2 run to begin the third quarter. A bucket by Jakobe Singleton gave St. Amant a 10-point lead.

Even when the Sharks cut the deficit down to five, a Letavian Crockett 3-pointer pushed the advantage back to 10 heading to the fourth quarter.

In the final period, Crockett drilled another trey to push the advantage to 15.

Singeton then came up with two huge blocks, and Brayden Kuriger supplied a dagger of a 3-pointer that put the game away with an 18-point lead.

Singeton was all over the floor. Not only was he the Gators' leading scorer with 22 points, but he piled up rebounds, steals and blocks.

"We dug in defensively," Uzee said. "We had a great game plan. I think that they thought we were going to play more zone, but we committed this week to really digging in and playing good man defense. Give a lot of credit to Jakobe Singleton. He made a lot of plays. He came up with a lot of steals and tips on balls. And we rebounded. We knew we had to rebound those 3-point shots because they shoot so many. We were just tougher than them."

Crockett scored 16 for St. Amant, and Jah'leel Ester put up 13.

"It was unselfish basketball. We have a group of kids that care more about winning, and they want to see each other do well," Uzee said. "We know or strengths. We've played through a lot this season. Tonight and the last few times we played, we did the things you need to do to win, and that's why we're moving on."

The victory set up a second-round matchup on the road against top-seeded Natchitoches Central.