Gators fall to Tigers at the buzzer

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant's Kameron Kelson and Donaldsonville's Stephen Sullivan prepare for the tipoff. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

It took all 32 minutes, but Donaldsonville beat parish rival St. Amant, 54-52, last week to clinch their fourth win in five games.

With the game tied late and with the Gators having the ball, Donaldsonville guard Aaron Julien came through with a steal and raced to the basket. He then made a contested layup as time expired to clinch the thrilling Tiger victory.

It was a fitting end to a game that featured so many wild runs and momentum shifts. St. Amant was down 11 at one point, but fought back furiously to take a fourth-quarter lead.

"I told them that they're a good team," Tiger head coach Lionel Gilbert said. "We made a big run. At some point, they're going to make a big run. It just comes down to how you respond. Times like this show the character of your team. I thought they responded well.

"We never got down on ourselves. We kept fighting, we withstood their run and we were fortunate enough to make a play on defense."

It was a crushing way to lose for St. Amant, but head coach Travis Uzee was pleased with how his team fought from start to finish.

"I couldn't have been prouder of that whole battle that we had right there," Uzee said. "We were down 11, and we had a 3-point lead with about two minutes left. This young team just couldn't quite figure out how to finish it at the end, but I'll tell you what, we have a lot of fight in us. We played so hard."

St. Amant took a 6-2 lead to start the game, but with Braxton Bernard back in the lineup for Donaldsonville, they reeled off a 10-0 run to capture a 10-6 advantage. The spurt was complimented by a layup by Jacoby Simon following a steal.

With a 14-8 lead heading into the second, Simon drilled a jumper to push the advantage to 7.

The lead was ballooned to 11 after a 3-pointer by LaDarius Jackson.

After a stretch where St. Amant went ice cold, KJ Franklin was able to steal the ball, get fouled and knock down both free throws to trim the deficit to 32-24 at the half.

To start the third, Stephen Sullivan completed an and-one play to jump the lead back to 11, but that's where things got interesting.

St. Amant amped up their defense and began causing turnovers in bunches. The result was a huge run that allowed them to take the lead.

A layup by Jahnoi Daley cut the deficit to 3, and a drive and layup by Travis Cole got St. Amant within a point.

Eventually, Kameron Kelson drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game, and he came through with a layup on the Gators' next possession to give them a 2-point lead. It completed a 15-2 St. Amant run.

However, Donaldsonville responded with a 6-2 spurt of their own to take a 45-43 lead into the fourth.

The final period took on a frenetic pace and saw the Gators regain the lead with a 3-pointer by Carter Templet. Bernard answered when he was fouled going for a layup. It cut the Tiger deficit to 1.

Sullivan then gave Donaldsonville a lead with a put-back after a missed shot, but Cole tied it up with a put-back of his own.

It all led to the thrilling final seconds. St. Amant had the ball and was setting up for a final shot, but Julien came through with the steal and sent home the layup just before the final second ticket off of the clock.

In the heart-stopping victory, Simon led the way for Donaldsonville with 13, and Julien followed with 10. Bernard had 7, and Sullivan had 5.

For St. Amant, Kelson had a game-high 16. Franklin and Cole each had 8.

"That Donaldsonville team is pretty darn good. I don't know if we'll play a lot of 5A teams that are as good as them," Uzee said. "We wanted to come to Donaldsonville this year with a young team to get to know what it feels like to play in a tough environment. Our kids handled it perfectly. We just couldn't make the plays at the end."

It completed quite a week for Donaldsonville. In four days, they hosted three 5A teams, and they beat two of them.

“We have back-to-back 5A opponents. We have a Dutchtown team, a solid EA team and then we come back on Friday with St. Amant. It's a parish roundup. It was a good opportunity for us to get battle-tested,” Gilbert said.