St. Amant outlasts Dutchtown in OT thriller

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

A couple of weeks ago, St. Amant led Mandeville by 11 in the second half, just to allow the Skippers to gradually chip away at the deficit and steal the game down the stretch.

On Thursday night, it looked like it was déjà vu all over again.

The Lady Gators led Dutchtown by 18 to begin the second half, but the Lady Griffins came storming back to tie the game at the end of regulation and send the contest into overtime.

But this time, St. Amant was able to weather the storm. The Lady Gators made some key free throws down the stretch, and they made just enough stops to escape with a three-point win.

“We’ve had some close losses all season, and I’m hoping that now we’ll realize that we’re young, but we have the opportunity to turn things around,” St. Amant head coach Kristy Englade said. “I think that confidence is building back up. I think what we did tonight was great. I was very pleased with how the kids responded. I think we came out locked in for the first half. We lost a little of that, but we turned it back on when we needed to.”

The Lady Gators were able to take control of the game in the first half. They led, 26-11, at halftime and to begin the third quarter, Deniya Thornton nailed a 3-pointer to stretch the advantage to 18.

That’s when Dutchtown came alive.

A three-point play by Destiny Graves and a long jumpshot by Kristen Malone contributed to a 15-3 Lady Griffin run that cut the deficit to just six points.

Much of Dutchtown’s turnaround was the result of tenacious defense that forced a slew of St. Amant turnovers.

The Lady Gators led, 32-26, heading to the fourth quarter.

To begin the final period, India Fefee drilled two 3-pointers that got Dutchtown within one. Fefee then came up with a steal and got the ball downcourt to Malone, who made a layup to give the Lady Griffins a one-point lead.

However, St. Amant answered right back. Two free throws by Caterina Byars regained a one-point advantage for the Lady Gators.

St. Amant stretched the lead to four with just under a minute remaining in the game, but Malone hit a 3-pointer to get Dutchtown within one.

Later, the Lady Gators led by two with just 17 seconds left. Zaria Harleax got the ball and drove all the way to the basket, where she made a beautiful dish to Graves. Graves made a layup with just seven seconds left to tie the game.

That bucket sent it to overtime.

The overtime period went back and forth until Amani Gray made a free throw to give St. Amant a one-point lead.

After Dutchtown was called for traveling, St. Amant got the ball back and Byards made two more free throws to push the lead to three.

In the waning seconds, the Lady Griffins had a chance to tie the game, but Malone’s 3-pointer rattled out.

The Lady Griffins saw a big second half from Graves, Malone and Fefee. They combined for 33 in the final two quarters and overtime.

Meanwhile, Byars hit some huge free throws for St. Amant down the stretch. She went 7-8 from the line in the second half.

“Zaria Harleax is a phenomenal player, and a lot of their offense was funneling through her, and I think we took her and the rest of the team out of their offense in the first half,” Englade said. “They couldn’t get to the goal, and it gave us confidence to come down and move the ball. We moved it really well in the first half.

“We struggled in the second half, but Dutchtown is a good team. In the end, they started penetrating and getting to the goal. That’s what we struggled with in the second half.”

It was the third straight win for the Lady Gators as it improved their overall record to 19-7.