The St. Thomas More boys basketball team proved unable to climb the giant obstacle of North Caddo senior forward Robert Williams, as the Rebels ran away from the Cougars on Monday night in the semifinals of the STM Sunkist Shootout.
The 6-foot-8 Texas A&M commitment dominated on both sides of the ball, tallying 27 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in North Caddo’s 64-46 victory against STM (12-4).
“We knew we weren’t going able to do much at the rim, and that’s what we do best,” said STM coach Danny Broussard. “(Williams) is a game-changer. He changed the game on the defensive end, and he surprised me with his offensive approach, too. He hit some nice jump shots. ”
His biggest impact early in came on defense, as he finished the first half with a double-double — 16 points and 11 rebounds and four of his blocks — as the Rebels limited St. Thomas More to three points in the first quarter and six in the second.
The Cougars were 1-for-17 in the first quarter and 4-for-28 in the first half, allowing North Caddo (13-2) to take a 22-9 lead into halftime.
“(Williams) might be one of the best shot blockers in the country,” Broussard said. “I was disappointed when my guys kept going to the lane, and he had (most of his blocks) in the first quarter.”
The Cougars finally found an offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter as they more than doubled their score with 25 points in the period and cut the deficit to 12 points in the final minutes.
But it was too little too late, as that was as close as STM would get.
STM will look to rebound at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, when it gets an early look at district rival Carencro for third place in the tournament, while North Caddo’s victory earned the Rebels a spot in the final, where they will play against Lafayette Christian at 7 p.m.
Earlier in Day 3 of the Shootout, Comeaux bounced back from its close loss Sunday to Carencro and earned a spot in the fifth-place game with a come-from-behind victory against St. Augustine.
The Spartans (11-4) trailed by six points early in the fourth quarter before going on a 10-0 run to take a 37-33 lead with four minutes remaining.
Comeaux went through a scoring drought spanning almost three minutes, but its defense held and the Purple Knights (10-5) only cut the lead a point in the final minute before Comeaux’s Michael Smith hit four free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal a 42-37 victory.
The battle for fifth place between Comeaux and Slidell will tip-off at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Acadiana will also participate in the final day of the tournament as it defeated Episcopal of Acadiana in the consolation semifinals.
The Wreckin’ Rams (7-6) took a big early lead against ESA (10-7), but the Falcons battled back and by halftime, they had cut Acadiana’s lead to 26-22.
But Acadiana ultimately proved to be too much for ESA as it built a substantial lead in the second half and cruised to a 52-39 victory.
The Rams and Brother Martin will kick off the action at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in a game that will decide the winner of the consolation bracket.