Walker Wildcats defeated East Ascension 67-46 for the Gene Bennett Classic tournament title Saturday night.
The story of the game, played at St. Paul's in Covington, was the dominant defense of Walker (16-1) and poor shooting of East Ascension (9-4) in the first half.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Jalen Cook led Walker with 19 points, and his brother Josh Cook finished with nine.
East Ascension was led by Hobert Grayson, who had 17 points, and Jimel London had 12.
The Warriors struggled to hit any shots in the first 16 minutes, making only five field goals in the first half. Meanwhile, Walker went on an 8-1 run for a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
East Ascension’s lone field goal of the opening quarter came on a runner by London with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Things didn’t get much better for EA in the second quarter as the Walker lead grew to 28-12 and by halftime had ballooned to 40-16 by halftime.
East Ascension cut the lead to 54-34 at the end of the third quarter but didn't make any headway in the final period.
“I thought our defensive intensity was the reason we won the game,” Jalen Cook said. “Stepping in front of cuts and playing good man-to-man defense. That set up the turnovers we needed that led to a lot of easy buckets and a good win for us.
“They aren’t a district opponent, but anytime you can beat a rival like East Ascension it makes it a little more special. We will play them a little later in the season, too. We know every time they are going to come out and play hard so it was just good to be able to come away with this victory. It’s a good building block as league play gets into full swing soon.”
SLIDELL 62, ST. PAUL’S 54: Slidell got the best of their 6-5A rival in the third-place game with a 62-54 win over St. Paul’s.
Junior guard Tylor Harris led Slidell with 15 points, and Chris Small had 13. Kolby Warren and Tyrone Banks each had 11 in the win for Slidell.
The story of the game was a Tigers run in the second half. After a bucket by Parker Edwards gave St. Paul’s a 43-38 advantage with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter. Slidell scored the next 19 points, including four 3-pointers to grab control at 57-43 with 4:31 to go in the game. Nine consecutive points by Parker Edwards ignited an 11-0 run after the Slidell run to make it 57-52 with 1:07 to go in the, but that wass the closest the Wolves would get.
“This was an important win for us,” Small said. “Especially after the defeat to Walker on Friday (72-54). We had never taken a loss like that before so we needed to come back and play hard and I thought we did.
“It was also a good win because this is a league opponent. You want to set the tone and let them know you are going to be there when we play in 6-5A action. St. Paul’s is a good squad, and I’m sure the two upcoming district games are going to be a stiff challenge.”
Edwards led St. Paul’s with 21 points and Chandler Owenby finished with 13 for SPS.
In other tournament action Franklinton defeated International High School of New Orleans 62-41 in the seventh-place game and Northshore defeated 6-5A rival Mandeville 37-25 in the fifth-place game.