Gators hold off late charge by the Griffins
Fueled by some hot 3-point shooting in the first half, St. Amant jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead over Dutchtown on Friday night.
But the homestanding Griffins would not go away. They kept chipping away at the deficit until they made it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately for the Gators, even though they went dry from 3-point range, they got some big baskets from Trace Forbes down low that helped them ice away a gritty 53-51 victory.
“Dutchtown has some good senior leaders at guard that play really hard, and they make shots,” St. Amant head coach Travis Uzee said. “They’re freaking good, and it was a good basketball game. When we were up 11 at the half, I knew it was going to come down to this because they’re not going to give in. I knew they were going to play hard as hell.
“I’m proud of our guys. We missed some free throws down the stretch that would have put it away, but we still hung in there and kept battling.”
Both teams got off to slow starts in the first quarter. Dutchtown led, 8-5, heading to the second.
It was there that both teams began to heat up from the 3-point line.
A Brian Norris trey gave Dutchtown its biggest lead at 14-8, but then St. Amant went on a 15-2 run that featured three made 3-pointers by Brayden Kuriger.
Later, RJ Gray nailed a triple to give St. Amant its biggest lead of the game at 30-19 at the break. The Gators hit eight first-half 3-pointers.
“We were getting good shots,” Uzee said. “They were playing zone and sagging in a bit, and giving us 3-pointers that we like to shoot. It was the first time in a long time that we got into a rhythm as a team. We stayed the course.”
Dutchtown came out hot in the third quarter. Two 3-pointers by D’ron McZeal contributed to a 13-4 run that cut the deficit to two points.
St. Amant eventually took a 39-34 advantage into the fourth quarter.
There, it appeared the Gators were ready to pull away as a Forbes put-back pushed their lead back to 10.
But then Norris made a bucket, and then added two free throws following a St. Amant technical foul. On the next Dutchtown possession, he hit another shot to get the Griffins within three points.
Norris then came up with a steal and a layup that cut the deficit to one.
But down the stretch, the Gators made some key defensive stops, and Forbes hit some big free throws that allowed St. Amant to escape with the win.
In a losing effort, Norris led the way for Dutchtown with 17 points. Stephen Aguillard scored 13, and McZeal was close behind with 12.
As for St. Amant, Forbes led them with a game-high 19. Kobe Green scored 13, and Kuriger added eight.
The Gators have now won five of their last six games.
“I think we have a good rotation, and we understand our roles and our responsibilities,” Uzee said. “We’re starting to get our identity back. We’ve gone through some crazy stuff this year, but it doesn’t seem to affect these guys. They just keep rolling, and that’s what we did tonight. It’s a credit to our guys. They keep competing.”