Griffins defeat Spartans to reach state quarterfinals
All season long, Dutchtown has depended on the scoring of the senior combo of Nick Caldwell and Gary Smith.
However, on Tuesday night, with the team on the cusp of making the state quarterfinals for the first time in five years, they looked to an unsung hero in junior forward Ryan Bromfield.
Bromfield delivered. He had a huge second half that culminated in 19 total points. His rebounding and second-chance baskets gave the Griffins the boost they needed in a 55-47 second-round playoff victory over parish and district rival East Ascension.
“It’s a good feeling to know that these kids are bearing the fruit of hard work," Dutchtown head coach Patrick Hill said.
It was a tough loss for the Spartans to digest. Interim head coach Tyler Turner thought his team was well-prepared and in the right position much of the night. They just didn't execute in key moments.
“The story of the night for us was missed layups. I thought everything else was great tonight—our attitude, our game plan," Turner said. "We were getting the shots that we wanted; we just weren’t finishing. And as the game went on, we weren’t getting defensive rebounds as we should. They were getting a lot of offensive rebounds, a lot of second-chance shots. Against a team like that, you can’t allow them to have second chances."
East Ascension had a lead early in the first quarter, but Dutchtown ended the period on a 7-0 run. This included a deep 3-pointer by Caldwell.
It gave them a 12-7 lead heading into the second. The Griffins never trailed again.
To start the second quarter, Bromfield came up with a put-back to make the lead six for Dutchtown, but East Ascension stormed back. A big dunk by Steven McBride got them within two.
Although, Smith was there with a great answer for the Griffins. He scored five straight points for Dutchtown to give them a 29-22 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was a sloppy one for both teams, but Bromfield's play sure wasn't. He took over for the Griffins.
Two straight baskets by him pushed the Dutchtown lead to 11.
Later, East Ascension cut into the deficit, but Bromfield wasn't finished. At the end of the quarter, he scored seven straight points for the Griffins. His flurry gave them a 38-26 advantage heading into the final quarter.
The Spartans didn't go away lightly. To begin the fourth, they went on a 7-0 run that got them within five points.
But a drive and layup by Caldwell ended the rally and extended the Griffin lead back to seven.
Later, Bromfield came up with a big block that Dutchtown turned into a transition layup by Smith. It pushed the lead back to 12.
“We had been in that situation before, and the more times you fail, the more times you succeed," Hill said. "In the past, we failed at times like that where a team made a run. We allowed them to get back in it. In some cases, they were able to win the game.
"With that being said, our seniors have done a really good job of not pointing a finger, but instead patting their teammate’s shoulder and making positive gestures. Our seniors have grown. I attribute being able to withstand that run to our senior leadership.”
From there, the Griffins cruised to a 55-47 victory, punching their ticket to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014.
Leading the way for Dutchtown was Caldwell with a game-high 22. Bromfield was close behind with 19 points of his own, and Smith scored 16.
As for East Ascension, they were led by McBride as he put up 16 as well. Both Tre' Joseph and Cameron Dunbar scored eight.
It was a season filled with plenty of adversity for the Spartans. They replaced many starters from last season, and midway through the year, head coach Barry Whittington, Jr. left to become the new Assistant Principal at Dutchtown.
After losing their first three games following Whittington's departure, Turner led East Ascension to a 5-3 record down the stretch and a playoff win over Denham Springs. They finished the year with a 20-15 record.
As for the Griffins, they will now hit the road to face second-seeded Ouachita Parish (31-5) in the quarterfinals, a team that has won 16 straight games.