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It might have been their tournament, but it surely wasn't St. Amant's weekend.
Hosting the Gold Dome Classic, the Gators fell to a hot-shooting Hammond squad 84-73 in the semifinals Friday night and on Saturday, they were walloped by archrival East Ascension 78-48 in the third-place game.
Prior to their semifinals clash with Hammond, the young and inexperienced St. Amant squad had showed tremendous resiliency. They won both opening round games against Grace King and Chalmette despite first-half deficits.
They hoped to ride that momentum into Friday night, but the Tornados' precise perimeter shooting set the Gators back early and never allowed them to catch up.
"What I thought really hurt us were the little runs they made, and they made some free throws down the stretch when we were trying to foul that really kept it up to where we were out of range of keeping it within a shot or two," first-year St. Amant head coach Travis Uzee said.
The first quarter was fast-paced and featured up-and-down offense and great shooting from each team.
Devin Webber led the charge for Hammond. He hit a big 3-pointer to spark a 7-0 run for the Tornados and then, he nailed a jumper at the buzzer to give Hammond a 19-13 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Tornados' run continued into the second and maxed at 11-0. It appeared the game was about to get away from St. Amant, but the Gators cut the deficit to just four points after a 7-0 run of their own that featured a big trey from Storm West.
Hammond had an answer. Marshall Graves hit a big 3-pointer of his own that put his total at 19 for the half. Webber had 17 at the break.
However, the dagger for the Tornados came from Troy Brown. After a missed shot, Brown scooped up the rebound and was good on the put-back at the buzzer to give Hammond a 43-32 lead at halftime.
"We took a quick shot right after they had made one, and they came down and took a quick one. We fell asleep a little on the block-out," Uzee said.
Even with such a big blow right before the half, the Gators never went away. In the third, they cut the lead down to 61-56 after two big 3-pointers--one from Jonavon Lewis and another from West.
But St. Amant just couldn't get out of the hole they had fell into early.
Hammond went on another run and jumped back up by 11 in the fourth with a transition bucket from Webber.
From there, the Tornados were good on most of their late free throws, allowing them to ice away the 84-73 victory and advance to the finals of the tournament.
Hammond was led by Graves and Webber. They scored 25 and 21 respectively. Giovanni Lee chipped in with 16 points off of the bench.
As for St. Amant, Lewis led the way with 24 as Courtney Julien put up 19, and West chipped in with 15.
After the two losses to end the tournament, St. Amant's overall record dropped to 3-6.
Despite the losing record, Coach Uzee thinks his young team has a lot of potential if they can just clean up a few minor mistakes.
"It's little things that are hurting us," Uzee said. "We hustle, we play hard; it's just a block-out here, a turnover there and we're a few possessions away from beating a good team."