Huge fourth quarter lifts EA past St. Amant

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
With East Ascension's win over St. Amant, their winning streak improved to 16 games. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

For three quarters, St. Amant gave archrival East Ascension all they could handle. At one point, they led by 6.

Then, the Lady Spartans showed why they were the second-ranked team in the state and winners of 15 straight games. Led by their opportunistic defense, they unleashed a 19-0 run that put them ahead, and they never looked back, taking the game, 59-46.

"We went stale a little bit in that third quarter. We only scored 8, and that bit us a little bit toward the end,” St. Amant head coach Kristy Englade said. “Our offense didn't seem to be working in the third and fourth quarters, but other than that, I'm proud of them competing and playing as close of a game as they did against a ball club like this."

East Ascension head coach Dennis Chandler wasn’t happy with how his team played for much of the game, but he did like how they took control late.

“[St. Amant] got tired. Our talent took over. We have more size than they have. The ball fell in our hands, and we played a little better on defense,” Chandler said.

After a sloppy start to the game, it appeared East Ascension was primed to take control.

Tristian Washington came up with a steal that yielded her a transition layup. It contributed to a 10-1 Lady Spartan run that gave them a 10-5 lead heading into the second quarter.

But St. Amant fought back.

"Our kids just felt like we had everything to gain and nothing to lose. They put their jerseys on, and they played their hearts out,” Englade said.

After falling down by as many as 6 points, the Lady Gators got within 3.

Mackenzie Brooks was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. She made all three free throws to tie the game.

Later, Megan Melancon made a big layup as the final few seconds ticked off of the clock to give St. Amant a 31-29 lead at the half.

"We got outplayed. We really should have lost because the St. Amant girls played harder. They played smarter. We were outplayed, outcoached, outhustled--the whole nine yards,” Chandler said.

In the third quarter, the lull continued for the East Ascension offense. Besides turnovers, they had many open 3-pointers, but they couldn’t get any of them to go.

Meanwhile, Brooke Romano hit a jumper to put St. Amant up 4, and Kelsi Martine made a nice dish to Melancon for a layup that put the Lady Gators up 6 late in the third.

The East Ascension offense finally got something going as Washington made a steal and drilled a shot at the buzzer that completed a 6-0 Lady Spartan run and tied the game heading into the fourth quarter.

From there, it was all East Ascension.

The Lady Spartan defense began to create a multitude of turnovers, and they were cashing them all in for easy points.

After being ice cold from 3-point range for much of the game, Alynzia Morris nailed one that completed a blistering 19-0 run for East Ascension.

With the lead comfortably in hand, the Lady Spartans rolled to the 59-46 victory.

Although disappointed her team lost, Coach Englade couldn’t have been happier with how her team performed.

"I told them, 'Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. They're No. 2 in the state, but that doesn't mean anything,’” Englade said. “As good of a ball club as they are, I wish them luck moving forward. Coach Chandler deserves it--being as good of a coach as he's been and as hard as he works."

St. Amant was led by Melancon’s 13 points. Brooks was close behind with 12, and both Martine and Alysa Price netted 8.

As for East Ascension, Morris had a game-high 21 points. Washington followed with 12, Diniaa McZeal added 9 and Railyn Shelvin had 8.

Coach Chandler thinks their win against the Lady Gators was a perfect example of why his team must improve.

”This team just does not communicate well,” Chandler said. “I keep trying to explain to them that if we keep doing what we're doing now, we'll lose in the first round. We're not going to beat a good team this way. It's been hard to get them to understand that we can be a whole lot better than this."

Though he has been frustrated with their play, the Lady Spartans have still found a way to win 16 straight games and improve to 17-1 overall.

"We're a good group,” Chandler said. “We're not bad. Don't get me wrong, we played bad. We've had some bad stretches, but we're a pretty good team, but there's a lot of room for growth with this group."