Parity is a word basketball coaches and sportswriters love. Or sometimes, love to hate. Finding a clear front-runner can make things easy. But when any team in a district can win on a given night, it shakes thing up.
And that is exactly what St. Amant (19-7, 2-0) hopes to do Tuesday night. The Gators travel to Catholic High (27-3, 1-1) looking to prove their mettle in the one round of District 5-5A play. Game time is set for about 7:15 p.m.
“This is a great opportunity for us, but you know Catholic will be ready,” St. Amant coach Travis Uzee said. “This is district where teams can win on any given night. You can throw the records out. This one will be a contrast of styles. They like to play fast. We want to be under control.”
The Gators weathered some early season roster shakeups and have flown under the radar. But now SAHS has won 12 of its past 14. Catholic lost 62-58 to McKinley last Friday, snapping a 10-game winning streak.
Uzee, a 1997 Catholic graduate, knows the Bears’ program well and often trades phone calls with CHS coach Mark Cascio. The story and list of leaders for the Bears is pretty well known. The story of the Gators’ top player, 6-foot-5 Destin Baker? Not so much.
Baker has developed into an inside-out threat who can post up or shoot the 3-pointer. He averages 20 points and 10 rebounds per game while making 38 percent of his shots behind the arc. Tyrone Johnson (6-4), Kenyon Hebert and Connor Adams are the Gators' other senior leaders.
“Those four seniors have taken over in games and practices the last three to four weeks,” Uzee said. “They’ve made winning games, not who scores the most points or gets the most shots, the priority for this team. It has been a joy to coach them, and we’ll see how far they can lead us.”
Short-handed Panthers prevailed
McKinley (19-9, 1-1) was missing three players from its regular lineup of starters and reserves going into last Friday’s 62-58 win over Catholic. The Panthers travel to Dutchtown for another 5-5A game Tuesday.
“Before that game, I think we lost something like four straight and did not know who would be able to play because of injuries,” McKinley coach Devan Clark said. “We needed a signature win and we followed the game plan and got it. My hope is that game sets the tone for the rest of our season.”
Keveonte Spears scored 21 for MHS in the win over Catholic, while Terry Smith added 14.