Explosive shooting was the catalyst for McKinley's 72-54 victory over St. Amant in a District 5-5A game played Friday at MHS.
The Panthers hit 10 3-pointers, a fact that gave the Panthers just the lift they needed after a Tuesday loss to Catholic High, according to coach Harold Boudreaux
“We hit the three ball well,” Boudreaux said. “We were shooting 12-for-38 on 3s before tonight in district play. That’s what I was worried about, could we bounce back after a difficult game and we did.”
The Panthers (18-8, 2-1) were led by the hot shooting of Fred Carr, Marcus Coleman and Damion Mitchell. who combined to score the first 15 points of the game for the home team. Five made triples in the first quarter combined with four missed free throws by the Gators (20-8, 2-1) gave McKinley a 19-11 advantage.
No shot was easy for St. Amant in the first half. KJ Franklin and Jahnoi Daley led the way with six and seven points, respectively. No other SAHS player scored more than two points.
Knocking down those outside shot early opened the lane, leading to point blank attempts around the rim for the Panthers. An emphatic stuff by Keshawn Leatherman of McKinley had the teams jawing back and forth with the crowd providing a raucous atmosphere.
St. Amant trailed by 10 at halftime. The Gators held the McKinley offense scoreless for the first four minutes of the third quarter and cut the Panther lead to five points.
A 30-foot 3-pointer by Jimmie Pittman of St. Amant elicited oohs and ahhs from the fans. What happened next was scary. Pittman suffered a head injury after being struck on two separate occasions. A 15-minute delay followed as Pittman was rushed to a local hospital.
McKinley led 46-40 after three quarters. The Gators continued to fight in the fourth period, narrowing the lead to four points with 7:20 remaining.
Coach Travis Uzee said he was proud of his team's ability to battle adversity in the fourth quarter even though they did not get the win.
“I think we battled back, but it felt like every three they shot went in,” Uzee said. “We’re a close-knit group and they were sad, but I’m proud of how we battled.”