ST. AMANT — All the elements that make a coach nervous were in place. It was Senior Night for St. Amant, it was the final game of the regular season and the Gators were playing arch rival East Ascension.
It didn’t look good when the Spartans jumped out to an early lead. But as senior guard KJ Franklin settled in, St. Amant took control, scoring 68 points in the final three quarters to claim a 77-66 victory over East Ascension in a District 5-5A game Friday night in front of a capacity crowd at the Gold Dome.
“I don’t know why, but I always start slow,” Franklin said. “We started slow and I think the big-game crowd got in our heads a little bit. As the game went on, we got in rhythm and won the game.”
Franklin scored a game-high 18 points, including three 3-pointers as the Gators (21-10, 3-2) avenged a previous loss to Spartans (19-13, 3-2) in which they took the lead and then lost it.
The story was different this time for multiple reasons. One was balance. Kenyon Hebert finished with 14 points and was the only other SAHS player in double figures, but all nine players scored, finishing with at least 5 points.
Along with that, the Gators played tough down the stretch. Destin Barber made 7 free throws in the final 1:07 when East Ascension was forced to foul. Hobert Grayson IV led East Ascension with 15 points. Cam Dunbar and Tre Joseph each added 13 for the Spartans.
“We can’t lose focus on what we’ve got to do and the game plan,” East Ascension acting coach Tyler Turner said. “As the game went on we started trying to go one-on-one. We’re not a one-on-one basketball team. The only way we can beat people is by playing like a team. That is what St. Amant did. Hats off to them.”
EAHS led 13-9 after one quarter. Franklin scored six points and made a 3-pointer that got the Gators within one. From there, St. Amant scored 8 of the final 11 points to lead 31-28 at halftime.
East Ascension led just once more in the third quarter. The score was tied as the clock ticked down and Augillard drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to send the Gators into the final quarter with a 51-48.
“The last time we played these guys we got up and we kept taking the same shots and didn’t adjust,” St. Amant coach Travis Uzee said. “This time we slowed down and we didn’t panic. We played our game.”