Although the East Ascension Spartans came away with a 12-point win over the Denham Springs Yellow Jackets at home on Friday 60-48, the final score doesn’t quite tell the whole story. The 13th-seeded Spartans started hot and finished steady in their victory Friday over No. 20 Denham Springs in a Class 5A first-round playoff game.

In the first half, the Spartans got off to a pretty quick start, building a 9-point lead. But Denham played with determination in the third quarter and outscored the Spartans 12-6 and pulled the score to 41-38. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Torez Kinchen was fouled during a 3-point attempt that gave the Yellow Jackets an opportunity to tie the game. Torez was only able to convert 1 of the 3 attempts that put the score at 41-39.

The Spartans never looked back after that. Junior guard Le’Aaron Cain went on a tear, scoring seven consecutive points to give the Spartans a 48-39 lead with 5:34 remaining in the game. Cain came through for the Spartans as he scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter while senior forward Bilal Frank was forced to sit out the last seven minutes with four fouls.

Kinchen, who led all scorers with 20 points and kept the game close for a while, made two of four free throws then added a layup after a turnover that pulled the Yellow Jackets to a 48-45 deficit with three minutes to play.

That’s as close as the Yellow Jackets (17-14) would get as they wound up only hitting 2-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 from the free throw line in the quarter. On the other hand, the Spartans (28-5) took it to the house from the free throw line as three different players combined to make 10-of-11 attempts in the final 2:30. Sophomore point guard Jamal London and sophomore Marques Anderson scored the game’s final eight points, all from the line.

Frank led East Ascension in scoring with 17 points, while Cain’s 15 points included a pair of three-point goals. Marques Anderson and Jimel London finished with 10 points, while Koye Ruffin added 5 and Justin Harris, 3.

The win was truly a team effort.

“We’ve preached being a family all year long, with the expectation that everyone pull their weight when called upon. Marques and Bilal definitely stepped up and made the most of their opportunities,” said second-year head coach Barry Whittington.

In the 2012-13 season, East Ascension reached the state semifinals, which was followed by a three-year dry spell in the postseason. “Friday’s win was huge for this young team. I think it gave us a better idea of what the playoffs are like. Prior to that game, no one on the team has any playoff experience,” added Whittington.

East Ascension will have played St. Paul’s by press time in round two of the playoffs.

Bulldogs powerful showing

The Ascension Catholic Bulldog powerlifting team competed in the regional championships at Woodlawn Saturday. The girls team finished in third place overall.

“Our girls look to make another run and repeat as the 1A state champions,” said coach Joe Ryan. “We had five freshman girls compete for us and two first-time lifters, so the future is bright for our girls. I know we are capable of so much more than what we showed on Saturday; now is the time to build up confidence and maintain the strength we worked so hard to achieve this year.”

Individual finishes are as follows: 105 weight class: Lauren Landry (freshman) third; 114 weight class: Brandi Landry (senior) first, and Emme Medine (freshman) fourth; 123 weight class: Mike Daigle (junior) second, and Paige Joseph (junior) third; 132 weight class: Jordan Diez (junior) fourth, and Dakota Bonadona (freshman) sixth; 148 weight class: Isabelle Abadie (freshman) third, and Camille Lemann (freshman) seventh; and 165 weight class: Elizabeth Latino (junior) third, and Megan Brooks (junior) ninth.

The boys team finished in fourth place overall. “Our boys look to compete this year at a higher finish than we did last year. We hope to finish in the top three in 1A. That will really give our guys a boost of confidence going into next year,” Ryan said.

Individual finishes for the boys are: 114 weight class: Owen Theriot (eighth grade) second; 123 weight class: Mason Klack (freshman) third; 132 weight class: Nick Milano (sophomore) second; 148 weight class: Mason Zeringue (freshman) eighth, and Parker Hales (freshman) 12th; 165 weight class: Alex Troxclair (junior) fourth, and Cole Amedee (senior) seventh; 181 weight class: Alex Cedotal (freshman) fifth, and Landon Landry (senior) sixth; and 198 weight class: Ashton Bourgeois (junior) fourth, and Robert Lemann (sophomore) ninth.

“Our team overall has worked extremely hard this year,” Ryan said. “Not only our lifters from this past weekend but the 13 others that are on the team that are looking to earn a spot to lift at regionals next year. We were able to qualify all 22 lifters that lifted at regionals this past weekend for the state meet on March 18. That’s an amazing feat considering the high level of competition in the state. We are one of the few teams in 1A that was able to qualify all 11 girls and all 11 boys.”

The state meet will be held March 18 at the University of Louisiana Monroe in the basketball gym.

Another big thing that happened for the Ascension Catholic family was the opportunity to host the regional competition next year. Ryan was named to the Executive Committee of the Louisiana Powerlifting Association as the East Region member at large.

“It is a huge honor to have that title, and I’m excited to hold it,” Ryan said.

Boating safety important

We’ve had some unusually warm weather lately and haven’t had much of a winter to speak of. If the past two weekends are any kind of a sign about how the river traffic in the Amite/Blind river basin will be this year, it’s going to be wild.

When the warm weather and boating picks up, one thing always comes to my mind: boating safety and accidents. Unfortunately, I’ve lost friends to these events while many have been hurt; and way too many have been killed. Another unfortunate truth is that most of these accidents are due to operating errors and not mechanical failures.

We’ve already experienced two boating fatalities in our state this year. On Feb. 19, on the Toledo Bend Reservoir in Sabine Parish, a boating incident claimed the life of David W. McManus, 74, of Iowa.

According to witnesses and survivors of the incident, two vessels were heading out to go fishing from their camp in the Negreet Creek area about 7:15 a.m. When the lead boat got up on plane, it left a wake that caused the second boat to pitch violently, ejecting McManus and the passenger into the water.

The lead vessel was able to retrieve McManus, who was unresponsive. A local fisherman who was nearby was able to retrieve the passenger from the water. The rescuers were then able to get back to the shore, call 911 for help and render aid to McManus.

First responders pronounced McManus dead at the shore. His body was turned over to the Sabine Parish Coroner’s Office to determine the official cause of death. The passenger was airlifted to University Health Hospital in Shreveport and was listed in stable condition. Neither McManus nor his passenger was wearing personal flotation devices or a kill switch.

On the same day, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents recovered the body of a missing boater in Iberville Parish.

Agents were notified about 1 p.m. Feb. 19 about a 10-foot aluminum vessel found floating without an operator. Agents then found the body of Donald Gage, 59, of Grosse Tete, about 1:45 p.m. in a borrow pit north of Interstate 10 near Ramah.

Agents believe that Gage was fishing when, for unknown reasons, he fell out of his vessel. Agents turned Gage’s body over to the Iberville Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.

This past weekend, I watched from my pier as a boat was pulling three young kids on a tube. The water is still very cold, there was a very high current from recent rains and there was trash and logs still coming downstream from the high water.

There were a fair amount of boats on the water — and the driver was steering irresponsibly, zigzagging from side to side — and eventually made a couple of 180-degree turns to increase the speed. There was lots of screaming from the kids on the tube as they were having fun, but the potential for an accident was very high.

The beginning of the boat season is just underway. Please be safe out there, consider other boats and people, but most of all, don’t drink and drive a boat.

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.