St. Augustine suffered an embarrassing loss to end last season after being bounced from the playoffs in the first round.
Coach Mitchell Johnson wanted to make sure his players didn’t focus on last season but did “want them to remember what that feeling felt like.”
The Purple Knights (23-7) won’t have to worry about a first-round exit this season as Myles Samuel buried four consecutive 3-pointers for the Purple Knights to put the game out of reach in the final two minutes as St. Augustine sprinted to a 68-49 victory over West Monroe in the opening round of the 5A state playoffs on Friday.
Samuel led his team with 14 points.
“We knew West Monroe wasn’t going to go away easily,” Johnson said. “We have to execute better and learn from our mistakes.”
Devante Jones started slow’y in the first half but responded with 10 points. His hot shooting helped the Purple Knights hold off a furious comeback attempt by the Rebels and head into the final quarter ahead 45-34.
Jake Norris’ 11 points in the third quarter kept West Monroe competitive. He finished the night 3-of-4 from beyond the arch with four steals.
Rebels coach Kyle Hill was pleased with the effort of his team, but said th “inexperience of his team led to their demise.”
“We had the game within reach, but our inability to make the big shots sunk our chances,” he said. “We fought hard, but it was not enough to put away an experienced St. Aug team.”
Senior Drew Bastiste raced into the open court for an emphatic dunk, which stretched the lead to 12-2 over West Monroe. Jones scored 10 points in the first half to help St. Augustine head into halftime leading 27-20.
The Rebels (17-10) were down by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, but a slew of 3-pointers helped close the double-digit lead. Dennis Collins led the way for the Rebels with eight first-half points.
The Purple Knights used a 9-2 run to open the game while limiting the Rebels to just only one field goal in the opening quarter.