EA survives stern test from Dutchtown

Kyle Riviere
East Ascension's Aja Causey races down the court as she is bing guarded by Dutchtown's Zaria Harleaux. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

When East Ascension and Dutchtown met in the district opener back on Jan. 8, the Lady Spartans won convincingly, rolling to a 58-42 victory.

When they met for the rematch at East Ascension on Thursday night, all signs pointed to another emphatic win, but Dutchtown had other plans.

The Lady Griffins put forth one of their best efforts of the season. They pushed the Lady Spartans to the limit and had a seven-point lead late in the second quarter.

Even when East Ascension charged back and looked like they were ready to put the game away in the fourth, Dutchtown never went away. A late shot by Chelsea Cain that could have tied the game rimmed out, allowing the Lady Spartans to survive, 66-63.

East Ascension head coach Dennis Chandler was not happy with his team's effort after the final seconds ticked off of the clock.

"We were doing dumb stuff. We didn't play defense; we didn't rebound--the whole nine yards. We just didn't do it," Chandler said. "We haven't played good defense all year. Dutchtown has some good players, and we made it easy for them. Really, they outplayed us. They deserved it more. This is not the way we play."

East Ascension really struggled with the Lady Griffins until late in the first half.

Trailing 28-21, the Spartans finally began to resemble the team that won the Class 5A state championship last season. Diniaa McZeal drilled a 3-pointer that ignited a run.

Aja Causey came up with an and-one play, then followed it up with a put-back off of a missed shot. Finally, Alynzia Morris sank two free throws.

This all contributed to a 13-1 Lady Spartan barrage to end the first half. It gave them a 34-28 advantage at the break.

But Dutchtown had a strong start to the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Cain sparked a 7-0 run for the Lady Griffins that put them back on top by two.

However, East Ascension had a prompt answer. They unleashed a 7-2 rally of their own to finish the third quarter. It gave them a 51-46 advantage heading into the fourth.

Sadie Williams scored 11 points in the second half. One of her buckets extended East Ascension's lead to seven to begin the period, but Cain scored five straight points to cut the deficit to two.

Later, Zaria Harleaux made a big layup down low to get the Lady Griffins within one.

After a Tristen Washington free throw, Dutchtown had one final chance. Trailing by two, Cain drove into the paint and pulled up for a jumper just inside the free-throw line. The ball rimmed out with just 1.5 seconds remaining.

The miss allowed East Ascension to squeak out the 66-63 victory.

It was the 10th loss in 12 games for Dutchtown as it dropped their overall record to 12-14.

The win was the seventh straight for East Ascension and improved their overall record to 16-2. It kept them in the top spot of District 5-5A.

Still, Coach Chandler is not happy with the way the Lady Spartans have been performing not only in this winning streak, but for the entire season.

"It's been hard to coach this group," Chandler said. "The leadership I had last year, I don't have it this year, and that's what makes it tough. We have to get better. It doesn't matter what our record is; we're not getting any better. We're not playing together. We're having a lot of mental breakdowns, and that's very hard to correct."