Griffins pull out tough road win over Spartans

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown's Nick Caldwell (left) and Gary Smith (right) clamp down defensively on East Ascension's Hobert Grayson. Caldwell and Smith combined for 57 of the Griffins' 71 points. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Last week, East Ascension head basketball coach Barry Whittington, Jr. resigned in order to become the new Assistant Principal at Dutchtown High School.

Two days later, his new school was facing his old school in a parish clash.

It was the Spartans’ first home game under interim head coach Tyler Turner. The raucous East Ascension faithful gave them a big boost, but in the end, they had no answer for Dutchtown’s Gary Smith.

It seemed like Smith had the ball in his hands for almost the entire game. He scored 37 points. Eighteen of those came from the free-throw line.

His sensational performance helped Dutchtown come away with a big 71-67 road victory.

“It’s big, no matter who the opponent is, to pick up a win on the road in a tough environment like this,” Griffin head coach Patrick Hill said. “It was a good test for us to play at a place like this, with a high stadium capacity. You could see during the JV game that the gym was starting to fill up. I felt that it could be good for us. I wanted to see how they would respond.”

Dutchtown responded well to start the game. They began the first quarter with a 5-0 run, and they ended it with one as well. It put them ahead 17-12 heading into the second.

Southeastern signee Nick Caldwell drained a 3-pointer to give Dutchtown their biggest lead at 24-15, but East Ascension responded with an 8-0 spurt that cut the deficit to just one.

The Spartans later took a lead, but a free throw by Smith tied the game at 29 at the break. Smith and Caldwell scored 27 of the Griffins’ 29 first-half points.

The third quarter saw more back-and-forth action.

Dutchtown finally gained a little separation late when Caldwell converted a layup. Smith then made a bucket in the paint as time expired in the period. His shot gave the Griffins a 48-43 advantage heading to the fourth.

The Griffins went on a big run in the final quarter.

Caldwell came up with another basket to stretch the lead to nine, and two free throws by Smith gave them their biggest lead of the game at 11.

But East Ascension didn’t go away.

Buckets by Tre’ Joseph and Javon Carter cut the deficit to just three points late. But Smith was able to ice the game with some timely free throws.

Smith led all scorers with 37 points, and Caldwell complimented him nicely with 20 points of his own.

“We can score. This Dutchtown team can score and drive to the basket like no Dutchtown team has been able to do in many years,” Hill said. “With that being said, sometimes we get a little out of control. That allows teams to get back into the game. That’s what happened tonight.

“But give EA credit. They’re going through a transitional phase right now, but they responded well. They didn’t quit. They did exactly what they needed to do to give themselves a chance to win. We have to do a better job of defending the entire game.”

Three players scored in double-figures for East Ascension.

Carter led the way with 23 points. Hobert Grayson was next in line with 19, and Joseph did his part with 15.

It was the second straight loss for the Spartans. Conversely, it was the fourth win in five games for Dutchtown.

“We’ve been scoring the basketball well, and the ball has been bouncing in our favor,” Hill said. “We have to start shooting free throws better. At the end of this game, they put us on the line, and we missed too many free throws. The harder we work, the more luck will come our way.”