Thanks to 11 3-pointers, with the last one coming by Shedrick Smith with 1:10 left in overtime, East Ascension defeated St. Paul’s 70-65 to advance to the championship game of the Gene Bennett Classic on Friday night in Covington.
With the win, the Spartans (9-3) advance to take on Walker at 6 p.m. Saturday, while St. Paul’s (12-4) will take on 6-5A rival Slidell in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m.
Hobert Grayson led EA with 23 points, and Smith added 20. Parker Edwards and Devonte Allen led the way for St. Paul’s with 17 points apiece, and Chandler Owenby finished with 14.
“We were missing too many wide-open shots to start the game,” Smith said. “The coaching staff told us to just keep putting them up and driving to the hole. Once we started doing that, we were fine and picked up a good win against a quality St. Paul’s squad.”
St. Paul’s led 21-9 lead at the end of the first quarter before EA started hitting those shots, taking its first lead at 29-28 with 1:46 to go in the second quarter on a Smith 3-pointer.
In a back-and-forth second half, both teams held leads. St. Paul’s was up 63-61 after a pair of free throws by Devonte with 34.1 seconds left in regulation. Javon Carter hit a pair of free throws with 25.2 left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Down 65-63 with 1:10 left, Smith calmly hit a 3-pointer to give the Spartans a lead they would not relinquish.
WALKER 72, SLIDELL 54: Jailen Cook scored 26 points, and Walker used a 22-2 run early in the fourth quarter to defeat Slidell and advance to the championship game.
“This was a good win for us tonight,” Cook said. “Slidell is a good team that is going to win a lot of games. This is the type of victory that is going to help us down the line come playoffs and power points.”
A back-and-forth game throughout, Slidell held a 20-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Walker took a 29-26 lead into the locker room at halftime and was up 43-41 at the end of the third quarter.
With 7:03 to go, a pair of free throws by Jonathan Merriman tied it at 44.
Walker then proceeded to take control, going on its 22-2 run to grab a commanding 66-46 advantage.
“Our energy increased (during the run),” Cook said. “You could just tell that we got a lot more aggressive, and it led to a lot of easy buckets. We played with more energy and like a team that has something to prove.”
Slidell was led by Kolby Warren and Tylor Harris, who each had 13 points. Merriman finished with nine in a losing effort for the Tigers.
In losers bracket action, Mandeville defeated International High of New Orleans 54-31 and Northshore defeated Franklinton 62-50. The Skippers will take on the Panthers at 3 p.m. Saturday in the fifth-place game, while International and Franklinton will play for seventh place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.