Gators pull out overtime victory over Griffins

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant's Kenyon Hebert soars for a layup during the Gators' 64-58 overtime victory over Dutchtown. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Playing in the Gold Dome against parish rival Dutchtown, the St. Amant defense threw everything they could throw at the Griffins' prolific duo of Nick Caldwell and Gary Smith.

The two combined for 31 against the Gators, but in key moments, St. Amant was able to make stops. Those huge defensive stands allowed them to pull off a gritty overtime upset, 64-58.

"They're (Caldwell and Smith) fantastic players," Gator head coach Travis Uzee said. "When you watch those kids over the years, they've just kept getting better and better. They lay it on the line, and we knew that coming in. We knew we were up against a challenge. We mixed and matched it so we had different guys guarding them at different times. All you can do is just try to slow them down. They're going to get theirs.

"We did a great job being tough and getting some rebounds at the end that we didn't get early in the game. I'm really proud of our guys."

It was a back-and-forth first quarter that saw St. Amant take a 12-11 lead into the second.

To begin the period, Connor Adams drilled a 3-pointer to give the Gators their biggest lead at 17-11.

To end the half, Destin Barker made two free throws to uphold a 27-21 advantage for the Gators heading into the break.

St. Amant was able to extend their lead to double-digits at the beginning of the second half. K.J. Franklin began the third quarter with five straight points to give his team a 32-21 advantage.

However, Caldwell began to heat up after sitting out most of the first half due to foul trouble. He nailed a pull-up 3-pointer, and then came up with a steal that ended in a layup. This got Dutchtown within two points.

St. Amant answered. Gavin Harris hit a trey to make the Gator lead 41-36 heading to the fourth quarter.

There, Dutchtown's Derrick Youngblood scored on a put-back, and Caldwell came up with another steal that he jammed home with a dunk to tie the game for the first time since the opening quarter.

Free throws by Smith then gave them a two-point lead. But in the final minute, Barker grabbed a rebound and finished in the paint to deadlock the game and send it to overtime.

In the extra period, Barker was the difference for the Gators. After Dutchtown went up three, Barker scored five straight to put them back ahead by two.

They never relinquished that lead.

Barker grabbed some huge rebounds and scored seven overtime points. Kenyon Hebert made four big free throws down the stretch that allowed the Gators to close out the 64-58 victory.

Barker finished with a game-high 18 points.

"This is his first year playing varsity because he was injured all last year," Uzee said. "In these last few games, he has really come around and finally gotten healthy. What's good about him is he goes and gets rebounds, and if he gets fouled, he's a good free-throw shooter. I'm very proud of Destin. I'm proud of all our seniors. It was a good win for them."

Franklin, another senior, scored 12. Adams chipped in with eight.

As for Dutchtown, Caldwell led the way with 17 points. Smith added 14, and Youngblood was right behind with 13.

It was the second loss in three games for the Griffins. Meanwhile, it was a big bounce-back for the Gators after falling to archrival East Ascension the previous week.

"This is huge, because we lost to EA and then we had a tough Comeaux team we got past," Uzee said. "We have Catholic High next, and they're just as good as Dutchtown. They're fantastic. We knew that playing at home, we had to give our best shot to win. Credit Dutchtown; they're tough as hell, but we made just a couple of more plays than them down the stretch."