LAFAYETTE — St. Augustine coach Mitchell Johnson said he was not pleased with his team’s 16 turnovers Saturday against Ellender, and he made sure his team knew it.
“Sixteen is far too many turnovers for our basketball team,” Johnson said. “I stressed to them that they needed to take care of the basketball, and they responded well.”
Sunday against Lafayette Christian, St. Aug turned the ball over just seven times. In the third quarter, the Purple Knights outscored LCA 21-12, led be Devante Jones’ nine points in the quarter. Jones finished with 11 total, and St. Aug cruised to a 55-39 win.
“Our game plan was to come out and do a good job on their shooters,” Johnson said. “We just wanted to defend and rebound today. I knew we were playing against a good, talented young team, but we had to put our stamp on the defensive side of the ball.”
LCA coach Byron Starks called St. Aug a “well-oiled machine” and said he will take many positives from the level of competition they faced Sunday.
“It is a positive because it gives us a chance to learn,” Starks said. “I think we can execute a lot better, especially against teams with the same parity as us. We learn how to fight from beginning to end. We’ll get back, regroup, and in our class and our level. St. Aug just played better.
Jones hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter to put the Purple Knights up 30-25. On the next possession, Jones converted a three-point play, extending the lead to eight. Johnson said Jones has struggled, but Johnson urges him to continue to take chances.
“Devante has been up and down with his shot, but I just continue to give him confidence and tell him to shoot the ball,” Johnson said. “Eventually, they’ll go in, and they fell tonight.”
With no true go-to guy, St. Aug hurt LCA with a plethora of players. Charles Brown got hot in the first quarter and finished with 15 points. Shaquille Duncan got hot in the fourth quarter and finished with 13. Caleb Daniels crashed the boards with 13 rebounds.
Johnson said he still trying to find the identity of his team, but he said they want to be aggressive.
“If a team is playing us aggressively on the ball, we’ll try to make some plays on the dribble,” Johnson said. “If they’re sagging, we’re going to pound it inside. I think our makeup will be on the defensive side, and if we play good defense, we are going to be in the game.”
St. Aug will play Brother Martin in the finals of the Sunkist Shootout on Monday. LCA will play a third-place game against crosstown opponent and host St. Thomas More. Starks said despite the lower stakes, his team will be ready for the challenge.
“Every game is a championship,” Starks said. “We tell our kids to play with the mindset regardless if the stakes. STM is going to be a good match, and we’re here on their turf. All these experiences helps us get some grit.”