Spartans finish strong against rival Gators
The last time East Ascension made a trip to the Gold Dome, the Spartans lost a game that was pretty much dominated by St. Amant from start to finish.
This time around, the shoe was on the other foot.
In Friday night’s matchup between the archrivals, East Ascension took an early lead, and they remained in control for much of the game.
The Spartans pushed their advantage to as many as nine in the third quarter. Though St. Amant was able to cut the deficit down to one in the fourth, East Ascension ultimately fended off the Gators down the stretch for a 61-55 victory.
“It’s a rivalry game. We rode the emotions all night because that’s what this game is all about,” Spartan assistant coach Darnell Lee said. “We were finally able to take that aspect out of it, settle down and just play some solid basketball.”
It was an exciting, up-and-down first quarter.
A 3-pointer by Keith Thomas gave East Ascension a 10-6 lead right out of gates. Then, right before the end of the period, he came up with a steal and layup to give the Spartans a 19-14 advantage heading to the second.
To begin that period, Troy Dunn hit a trey to open up a seven-point lead for East Ascension. However, the Spartans failed to pull away as they got sloppy with the ball.
In the closing moments of the first half, Trace Forbes came through with a put-back that cut the East Ascension lead to 28-23 at the break.
To begin the third quarter, Tilicuis Irvin nailed a 3-pointer and Dunn added a bucket to stretch the Spartan advantage to nine.
But then Letavian Crockett heated up for St. Amant. Crockett scored nine straight points for the Gators to get them within one at the end of the quarter.
However, to begin the final period, Irvin hit another trey to push the Spartan lead to four. Later, Nderius Walker scored down low to stretch the advantage to eight.
From there, East Ascension was able to sink all of its free throws to close out a 61-55 win.
“I’m pleased with the hustle, the intensity and the focus down the stretch,” Lee said. “Anything can happen in this game. Coach [Travis] Uzee did a good job. He made adjustments, and we had to make some as well. We tried to put some pressure on them. Overall, our execution was a little above par, but I think we can get a lot better.”
In the loss, Crockett had a terrific game for the Gators as he scored a game-high 25 points. Forbes added 17, Jah’leel Ester netted seven and RJ Gray added six.
East Ascension was led by Walker as he scored 16. Thomas was close behind with 15, Dunn scored 11, Irvin added nine and Jacorey Mitchell netted eight.
It was the Spartans’ eighth win in their last nine games.
“We’ve been cleaning up our play and focusing on defense,” Lee said. “We’ve been trying to be in better positions, trying to apply pressure and not give up open shots. Our guys have been communicating well, and I attribute that to our leadership. Troy Dunn and Keith Thomas have really been leading us, and Nderius Walker has been finishing games strong for us.”