Dutchtown captures emotional win over St. Amant in district opener

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown's La'Shon Redditt posts up on St. Amant's Vanessa Thomas in the Lady Griffins' 47-45 victory. Photo by Dewey Keller.

It was a special night for the Dutchtown girl's basketball team.

The Lady Griffins captured a thrilling 47-45 victory over St. Amant in their district opener on a night where they honored their former team manager Claire Carline.

Last month, Carline was killed in a car accident on her way to school. To honor her memory, both teams decided to "Geaux Pink for Claire."

The emotions surrounding the game seemed to give Dutchtown a boost as they stifled the St. Amant offense in the first half--holding them to just 13 points.

"Dutchtown came out intense and active on defense, and we just stood around and didn't really hit any gaps," St. Amant head coach Kristy Englade said. "We weren't cutting or going anywhere. I felt like I was reaching for every offense imaginable."

Even with the victory, Dutchtown head coach Annette Lowery was upset with how the defense lightened up in the second half.

"I don't like how we shut down defensively in the second half because I feel like our defense is our bread and butter, and defense always turns into offense if you play hard and play the correct way," Lowery said.

St. Amant got out to a 9-4 lead after a 3-pointer by Ne'Kyla Williams, but Dutchtown responded with an 11-0 run that spilled into the second quarter.

The run was sparked by tenacious defense and gave the Lady Griffins a 15-9 advantage.

The Dutchtown defense played even better in the second quarter--holding St. Amant to a miniscule four points in the period. It helped them take a 20-13 lead into the half.

It was a completely different Lady Gator offense to start the second half.

After Williams and Kara Gremillion drilled 3-pointers, St. Amant was able to race to a 12-2 start and regain the lead.

But Dutchtown responded in a big way. Kyra Harleax ignited a 13-3 run with a coast-to-coast lay-in followed by a jumper. Kelsie Baker added a 3-pointer to give the Lady Griffins a 35-28 advantage heading into the fourth.

The runs continued as the Lady Gators went on an 11-3 tear that was aided by 3-pointers by Williams and Gremillion and an and-one play by Maci Marchand.

With the game tied, Harleaux added a lay-in to regain the lead for the Lady Griffins and later, Tyler Smith added two free throws to extend the advantage to five.

Gremillion hit another 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two, but St. Amant could never get any closer. Dutchtown was able to sink their free throws and capture the thrilling 47-45 win.

"I think that in the second half we settled down a little bit and we started giving them looks that we had gone over, and they were there," Englade said. "That deficit, we could never really overcome. We tied it up, but we could never really get over the hill."

Smith led Dutchtown with 14 points. Baker added nine, La'Shon Redditt had eight and Harleaux chipped in with seven.

As for St. Amant, Gremillion had a game-high 21. Williams had nine, and Vanessa Thomas had eight.

Lowery was happy with the big district win, but she knows her team has to get better.

"I was hoping that we wouldn't give them a run but then we miss an assignment and leave the backside wide open, give up threes and we don't get to our assignments, so that's what happens when you play a good team that can shoot well from the outside," Lowery said.

Defending district champion St. Amant had won 11 straight league games prior to Thursday night's loss, but Coach Englade wants her team to know that their goal of winning back-bo-back titles is still very much in play.

"We're just gonna keep working," Englade said. "I told them that I still have intentions to be district champs. We just have to keep our goal in mind and keep pushing forward."