When disaster strikes
A 15-0 deficit right out of the gates, a dominant performance by Jacardo Hawkins down low and four 3-pointers by Johnell Lane all spelled disaster for St. Amant on Friday night.
The Gators made the short trip to East Ascension hoping they could pull the upset and get their first district win, but they ran into a buzz saw.
The Spartans jumped on them early with the double-digit lead and had an answer every time St. Amant tried to respond. The result was a resounding 79-49 victory.
"That was a little unexpected, but we made shots, and we took good shots," East Ascension head coach Kenny Almond said. "We got it to Jacardo a little bit and made some outside shots. They answered back, but it was a good way to start."
The early Spartan blitzkrieg started with a steal and breakaway dunk by Eric Williams and just picked up more steam on the other end when Hawkins made a huge block that ignited the crowd.
With East Ascension spewing momentum, St. Amant continued to miss shots and turn the ball over. D.J. Jacobs produced one of the turnovers as he collected a steal and finished it off with a breakaway lay-in.
It all translated into a nightmarish 15-0 deficit to start the game for the Gators.
"They caught us on our heels a little bit, and that wasn't how we wanted to start the game, obviously," St. Amant head coach Travis Uzee said. "They made a few shots; we didn't, and it snowballed on us."
The relentless Spartan run finally came to an end when Christopher Poore and Courtney Julien each nailed 3-pointers to end the first quarter.
The two buckets were huge for the Gators. It calmed them down and finally allowed their shooters to get into rhythm.
In the second quarter, Poore and Julien ignited a charge. Poore sank another trey, and Julien made a jumper to cut the East Ascension lead to eight points.
"We lost that big lead in the second quarter because we were getting two, and they were getting three," Almond said. "It wasn't like we were playing bad, but they were catching us. They're (St. Amant) a lot better than they were at the start of the year. They play hard; they have a young team."
The Gators actually got the deficit down to seven with a 3-pointer from Nick Griffin, but East Ascension made a strong push before the half.
Deandre Jones sank a lay-in for the Spartans with just three seconds remaining--allowing the Spartans to take a 36-25 lead at the break.
Action in the third quarter was frenzied with 3-pointers raining down from all directions.
Griffin kept St. Amant close early on as he hit three treys, but Lane was there to answer every time for East Ascension.
Following two straight steals and breakaway lay-ins by Jarred Adams, Lane hit two straight 3-pointers that gave the Spartans their biggest lead of the game at 21.
The 3-point barrage turned out to be the knockout blow for St. Amant as they headed into the fourth quarter down 62-38.
"Tonight, I think it was just one of those situations where they jumped on us early, and we used a lot of energy getting back in it, so it was hard sustaining that level of play when we came back," Uzee said.
In the fourth quarter, the Spartans put the exclamation point in the victory with a big alley-oop dunk by Hawkins that gave them their biggest lead at 27. From there, they cruised to the 79-49 win.
Julien and Griffin kept things close for the Gators. They scored 30 of the team's 49 points with Julien putting up 17 and Griffin chipping in with 13--which included four 3-pointers.
As for East Ascension, Hawkins dominated in the paint as he finished with 22. Lane's four 3-pointers helped him collect 16 points, and Jones scored 11.
The blowout loss dropped St. Amant to 10-13 overall and 0-2 within the district.
"We're a young team, and we're going to have to figure it out quick, and our guys will do it," Uzee said. "They're resilient, and they've been that way all season. We have a lot of fight in us every time we get on the court."
Because of the cancelations last week, St. Amant had to play Woodlawn Monday night. They remained winless in district with a 61-51 loss.
As for the Spartans, the victory improved their overall record to 18-7 and 2-1 in District 5-5A. They also had to make up a game Monday night against Dutchtown. They fell in a close one 47-46.
This Friday, they'll go on the road to face McKinley. They'll be trying to avenge a 51-48 loss they suffered to the Panthers in the district opener.