In a battle between the two remaining unbeaten teams in District 6-5A, St. Paul’s rode a hot-shooting performance on its way to a 64-59 overtime victory over Mandeville.
St. Paul’s (13-5, 3-0) was led by Harrison Prieto who finished with 22 points. Freshman Parker Edwards had a solid night with 14 points in the win.
“Growing up you dream about playing in rivalry games like this,” Prieto said. “I mean this is St. Paul’s and Mandeville. It pretty much doesn’t get much better.
“All you ask for is the chance to be there at the end of the game. You want to have the ball with a chance to win. We did that and fought through overtime. In the end, we made our free throws when they were needed the most.”
Suffering their first district loss, Mandeville (11-8, 2-1) was led by guard Hunter Dugas, who finished with a game-high 37 points. However, he was only one of two Skippers to finish in double-digits as Ethan Turner had 10 points and Jessie Jackson added eight.
Riding Dugas’ hot shooting, the Skippers continued to cut into the St. Paul’s lead in the second half and a pair of free throws by Johnson to start the fourth quarter gave them their first lead at 43-41.
Trailing 54-52 with 47 second left in regulation, Johnson hit a jumper to tie it at 54, sending it to overtime.
Refusing to give up throughout, Mandeville tie it at 57 with 1:54 left in overtime on a Johnson free throw. Christophe Robertson answered a minute later with four consecutive free throws to put the game out of reach.
“We started off hot,” Wolves coach Phil Williams said. “But give credit to Mandeville, they are a good team and they stayed in the game until the end. Fortunately enough for us, we were able to make some big free throws in the overtime period to come out victorious in this one.
“Any time you can go on the road and get a win in district play you will take it; no matter how it comes.”
After a 2-2 tie, St. Paul’s went on a 13-0 midway through the first quarter to take a commanding 15-2 lead with 3:04 left in the opening period.
Paced by a hot-shooting effort that only saw three missed baskets in the first quarter, the St. Paul’s defense was equally as impressive, holding Mandeville without a point for almost four minutes.
Not going away quietly, Dugas nearly single-handily brought the Skippers back in the the second period.
The senior guard scored 18 of his team’s 24 points in the first half. His 3-pointer with 4:27 to go in the first half cut the Wolves’ lead to 24-20, but St. Paul’s responded with a 4-0 for a 28-20 lead.