GONZALES — More than anything else, fourth-seeded East Ascension High wanted to advance to the boys basketball semifinals. To get in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 5A final four, the Spartans turned Brother Martin High inside out.
Post player Ja’Cardo Hawkins scored a game-high 34 points, including 19 in the second half, and guard Javaughn Williams added 22 with five 3-pointers as East Ascension ousted No. 5 Brother Martin-New Orleans 74-61 in quarterfinal action Tuesday night at EAHS.
“I think the offense moved around some tonight,” EAHS coach Kenny Almond said. “Javaughn was definitely the key. He hit some big shots for us early. And Ja’Cardo did his thing.”
With the win, the Spartans (30-4) advance to the semifinals against Ouachita, a 64-48 winner over East St. John on Saturday at a site to be determined. It is EAHS’ first semifinal berth since 2008. Brother Martin, a semifinalist last season, finished 29-7.
“They (the Spartans) were everything we thought they were,” Brother Martin coach Bill Gallagher said. “They’re a really good team with a hall of fame coach. I thought it was a great game between two great programs.
“It messed us up when they started hitting all those shots in the beginning. We staggered a little on our heels. But we got it back to a one possession game in the third quarter. Then we couldn’t get that one shot or play we needed to put us over the top.”
Jabbar Singelton led Brother Martin with 21 points. Jordan Lumpkins (14), Jordan Cornish (10) and Jalen Gray (10) were other double digit scorers for the Crusaders.
The Spartans wanted a fast start and thanks to Williams, they got it. The senior guard hit three 3-pointers in the opening two minutes to give EAHS a 9-0 lead.
Williams, who made four 3-pointers in the first quarter, scored16 points in the opening half, while the 6-foot-7 Hawkins had 15 first-half points.
“I just wanted to have a better game than I had in our first two playoff games,” Williams said. “I wanted to shoot, and when I did, I felt like it was going in.”
But Brother Martin battled back. The Crusaders chipped away at the lead and got it down to five at 1:36 mark in the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Singleton that made it 20-15.
Singleton, who also had four 3-pointers in the first half, scored a game-high 18 in the first half. A jumper by Hawkins gave EAHS 24-15 lead going into the second quarter.
Hawkins scored 11 second-quarter points and had two dunks that caused the gym to erupt.
BMHS got as close as six early in the second quarter, but two baskets by Hawkins, a basket by Shiervan Ursin and a 3-pointer by Jeremy McInnis allowed the Spartans to build a 13-point lead.
Singleton’s final 3-pointer of the half got BMHS within six again at 42-36 with 56 seconds remaining. Williams’ jumper with just a second left gave EAHS 44-36 halftime edge.
Cornish heated up in the third quarter for the Crusaders, hitting four crucial baskets. His jumper from the free-throw line with 5:00 left made it 47-42.
Three baskets by Hawkins and another 3-pointer by Williams allowed EAHS to extend its lead to 12, at 58-46, with 1:22 remaining.
Two baskets by Gray helped BMHS get back within eight, at 58-50, going into the fourth quarter.
“They (the Spartans) came out hot and made a couple of 3-pointers to start the game,” Gray said. “We were playing catch-up the whole time. I’m proud of my team. They (the Spartans) are good.”
A jumper from the right corner by Lumpkins got BMHS within eight, at 60-52, less than two minutes into the final quarter. But the Crusaders had no answer for Hawkins, who added eight points in the fourth quarter. The Spartans led by as much as 16.
“We’ve got another game,” Almond said. “I told them, ‘Guys, the best thing you can hear at this time of year is we’ve got practice tomorrow.’ ”