As senior forward Charles Brown walked back to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with six minutes left in the game, St. Augustine was staring at a five-point deficit Saturday afternoon.
But it was Brown who capped a furious rally by the Purple Knights to overcome the deficit and take home a last-second 51-50 win that pushed his team to the next round of the Sunkist Shootout at St. Thomas More.
Brown fought through contact to finish at the rim and give the Knights the lead with eight seconds to go.
“I was able to save him a little bit with those fouls, and it ended up working out for us at the end,” said St. Augustine coach Mitchell Johnson. “I know he was having one of those uphill- battle-type games for us, but he was able to fight through adversity, and he’s been our go-to guy all year.”
Brown finished with 17 points and seven 7 rebounds, both team-highs.
Ellender doubled Brown throughout, bringing an extra man as soon as the entry pass came in.
Patriots coach Cornell Scott said his team did what they needed to do for 30 minutes, but in the crucial moments made fatal mistakes.
“The backside rotation wasn’t there in those last two minutes of the game,” Scott said. “To beat a team like that, you have to play all the way through.”
The Patriots frustrated the Knights ball-handlers throughout, furiously trapping and pressing to create easy scoring opportunities. St. Aug committed 16 turnovers.
Johnson said the Patriots coaching staff did a great job of designing and executing an effective scheme.
“We played our spots defensively. We disrupted some of the things that their guards wanted to do,” Scott said.
Poor free throw shooting late hurt the Patriots, who received multiple chances to open bigger leads.
“You have to take your chances at the line when you get them against a team like that,” Scott said. “We didn’t.”
The Patriots packed the area around the basket with an aggressive zone, led by the lanky duo of Quentin Scott and Leland Alexander, who got their hands on many of the entry passes intended for Brown.
“They are usually a good- shooting team, but they weren’t knocking them down tonight,” Scott said.
The guard combination of junior Devante Jones and sophomore Caleb Daniels helped keep the Knights in the game until they finally took the lead in the closing seconds.
Jones finished with 16 points, including a team-high five free throws, while Daniels added in 14 points.
The combination of Jones, Daniels and Brown accounted for all but four of St. Augustine’s points in what Johnson described as a “scrappy victory.”
“That’s probably going to be our makeup,” Johnson said. “We’re just going to have to fight for everything.”
St. Aug will play the Lafayette Christian-Comeaux winner at 8 p.m. Sunday.