East Ascension falls to Scotlandville, finishes third
It was just last season that East Ascension won the Gold Dome Classic at St. Amant but this year, they had to settle for third place after a sluggish and sloppy 42-28 loss to defending state champ Scotlandville in the semifinals Friday night.
The Spartans hadn't had much of a challenge prior to the game. They cruised through the two opening rounds with wins over Dunham and Airline.
However, against the championship-tested Hornet squad, they seemed lost at times and suffered their largest defeat of the year.
"We got out of control, we couldn't handle the ball and we kept trying to do one-on-one stuff. We're not gonna win if we keep playing like that," a frustrated head coach Kenny Almond said after the game.
The Spartans had an uphill climb right from the start as they fell down 6-1 behind sloppy ball handling and turnovers.
Scotlandville's Lamarcus Lee gave them a big boost with eight first-quarter points to put the Hornets up 11-7.
Johnell Lane then ignited a 7-0 run for East Ascension after he nailed a 3-pointer. The run gave them their first lead of the game at 16-14, but it didn't last long.
Ezekiel Brown hit four straight free throws for Scotlandville to give them an 18-16 advantage heading into the half.
The Spartans finally got Jacardo Hawkins going to start the third as he made two quick buckets to give East Ascension a two-point lead, but that's when the Hornets took over.
They went on a 9-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 27-20. Lee scored on two breakaways from steals during the Hornet spurt.
D.J. Jacobs hit a 3-pointer for East Ascension before the end of the quarter, but Scotlandville still led 30-24 going into the fourth.
From there, it was all Hornets. They buried two 3-pointers--including one from Brown--that gave them their biggest lead of the game at 12.
That's all they needed as they locked away the 42-28 victory that sent them into the finals of the tournament.
The loss was bad enough, but it was the way his team performed during the defeat that had Coach Almond so disappointed.
"They weren't doing it together. That sums it up. It's too much individual. We have to play together, run our offense--which we can do" Almond said.
Lee led the Hornets with 14 points, and Brown complimented him with 10 of his own. As for the Spartans, they didn't get much offense outside of Hawkins. He scored 13 of their 28 points.
After the victory, Scotlandville went on to win the tournament and improve their record to a perfect 8-0.
As for East Ascension, the loss dropped the Spartans' record to just 3-3. The three defeats equal their total for all of last year when they finished 27-3 during the regular season and made it to the state semifinals.
But they did respond nicely. In the third-place game against St. Amant on Saturday night, they crushed their archrival Gators 78-48.