It's shaping up as a most happy new year for the Sophie B. Wright basketball team.
The Warriors are tipping off 2018 riding the high of a seven-game winning streak that was punctuated Friday by a resounding 58-44 victory against host St. Augustine in the championship game of the Purple Knight Classic played at Watson Jones Memorial Gym.
Junior wings Damiree Burns and Greg Hammond scored 18 and 15 points, respectively, and the Warriors defense held St. Augustine scoreless for the first 7½ minutes of the third period to complete a 4-0 run to the tournament championship.
“It meant so much to us not only just to come in here and play, but to play well,’’ Wright coach Jason Bertrand said. “This is a prestigious tournament, and there were a lot of prestigious teams in this tournament. We’re kind of the new kids on the block.’’
As a prohibitive favorite to win District 9-3A, Wright (16-3) has made its presence felt throughout the current season after advancing to the Class 2A state quarterfinals last March. The Warriors have defeated St. Augustine, McDonogh 35 and Crescent City each twice in addition to owning victories against Slidell, Northshore, Salmen, Southern Lab, Ellender and Karr.
Two of Wright’s losses are to Riverside with the third coming against Class 5A foe Carencro.
“It was good for us to be able to come in here and mix it up against our (local) people and play well,’’ Bertrand said of his team’s tournament games against Ellender, Karr, McDonogh 35 and St. Aug. “We went through a gauntlet of teams. It was big that we were able to look the part.
“I thought one of the biggest differences today was our level of focus. When we’re locked in, we’re tough to play against. We’ve got length and our kids love playing together.’’
Burns, a 6-foot-5 junior guard/forward, scored all but two of his game-high 18 points in the second half as Wright used a 15-3 blitz in the third period to expand a 31-26 halftime to 17 heading into the final eight minutes.
Two baskets by Burns at the start of the fourth period helped produce Wright’s largest lead at 51-31 and the Warriors led by no fewer than 14 thereafter.
Hammond, a 6-5 junior guard, scored 11 of his 15 in the opening half as Wright built leads of 16-10 through one period and 31-26 at intermission.
Burns and Hammond each grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as the Warriors outrebounded the Purple Knights 35-32. The duo also blocked five shots, with Burns accounting for three.
Although the Purple Knights had 10 players score, none had more than eight points as a three-game winning streak came to an end.
“I’m not surprised,’’ Hammond said of Wright’s performance. “I knew we had a good team, a better team than St. Aug. All of our players were confident.’’
St. Augustine (12-7) now moves into District 9-5A Catholic League play Tuesday at John Curtis while Wright heads into its fifth tournament, the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic that opens Tuesday at the Alario Center.
“I’m very proud of my guys for fighting through adversity today,’’ St. Augustine coach Mitchell Johnson said. “Sophie Wright is a very good ball club. They made plays when they had to. Their defense gave us trouble.
“The third quarter was crucial. We normally win a lot of third quarters. But give their defense credit. Their length is difficult to play against. We’re still trying to find our way a little bit. But we’re going back to the gym and grind.’’
ST. AUGUSTINE PURPLE KNIGHT BASKETBALL CLASSIC
At St. Augustine’s Watson Jones Memorial Gym
Friday, Dec. 29
Game 25: Landry-Walker 60, Chalmette 52
Game 26: Hahnville 64, Carver 39
Third-place game (27): Bonnabel 66, McDonogh (35) 57
Championship game (28): Sophie Wright 58, St. Augustine 44
Thursday, Dec. 28
Game 17: Southern Lab 48, Ellender 37
Game 18: Warren Easton 55, Ben Franklin 29
Game 19: Hahnville 61, Thibodaux 60
Game 20: Carver 57, Lake Area 55
Game 21: Landry-Walker 55, Karr 36
Game 22: Chalmette 56, West Jefferson 53
Game 23: Semifinals No. 1, St. Augustine 54, Bonnabel 48
Game 24: Semifinals No. 2, Sophie Wright 68, McDonogh (35) 57
Wednesday, Dec. 27
Game 9: Hahnville 69, Ellender 47
Game 10: Thibodaux 78, Southern Lab 76 (OT)
Game 11: Lake Area 32, Warren Easton 25
Game 12: Carver 56, Ben Franklin 35
Game 13: Bonnabel 67, West Jefferson 57
Game 14: Sophie Wright 55, Karr 46
Game 15: St. Augustine 51, Chalmette 40
Game 16: McDonogh (35) 56, Landry-Walker 52
Tuesday, Dec. 26
Game 1: Karr 47, Hahnville 46
Game 2: Chalmette 51, Ben Franklin 28
Game 3: West Jefferson 73, Warren Easton 56
Game 4: Bonnabel 83, Lake Area 48
Game 5: McDonogh(35) 67, Southern Lab 55
Game 6: Sophie Wright 99, Ellender 69
Game 7: St. Augustine 58, Carver 47
Game 8: Landry-Walker 58,Thibodaux 53