Coming into Monday’s rematch against Rummel, St. Augustine knew execution of its game plan would likely yield the same result as the first time the two teams met — and it nearly did.
Caleb Daniels and Devante Jones combined for 41 points to help beat the Raiders 75-45 on Jan. 15, and the Purple Knights’ duo combined for 40 to lead their team to a 74-48 win on Monday, clinching the District 9-5A title for the third year in a row.
“We basically came out with the same game plan and did a good job of executing it in the second half,” Daniels said. “We matched their intensity and maximized our effort. That’s how we got the win.”
After Monday’s win, the Purple Knights — ranked No. 9 in the New Orleans Advocate’s Boys Super 10 — have won 10 of their past 11 games and improved their record to 20-7 and 10-0 in the Catholic League.
St. Aug coach Mitchell Johnson said — along with getting healthier — a major reason why his team has turned things around lately has been Jones and Daniels providing more leadership for the team to go with their scoring.
Daniels finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Jones added 20 points and three steals.
“As long they continue to be leaders and play hard, we kind of feed off of their energy,” Johnson said. “They are seasoned, veteran guys, so they know the importance of the Catholic League.”
With the game tipping off at 1 p.m., the Purple Knights got off the a slow start Monday, falling behind 9-2 in the first quarter. They didn’t score their first field goal until Daniels’ three-point play with 3:18 left in the quarter.
But once the junior got his team’s first baske,t St. Aug took off, tying the score at 12 by the end of the quarter and outscoring Rummel 19-8 in the second.
Jones and Daniels combined for 11 points in the quarter as the Purple Knights stormed back to take a 31-20 lead into halftime.
“Not to make any excuses, but the early start probably threw us off a little to start the game,” Jones said. “But we knew we needed to pick up the defensive intensity, and that got us a few turnovers, which got us going on offense.”
The lead ballooned up to 45-25 midway through the third quarter, but Rummel (14-13, 5-4) continued to battle and got the score down to 51-40 early in the fourth quarter after two free throws from Aaron Brule.
But St. Aug turned up its defensive effort and overwhelmed the Raiders down the stretch, closing the game on a 19-4 run to secure the win and hand Rummel its third district loss in the past four games.
Asken Stamm led the way for the Raiders with 15 points and three rebounds.
“The thing that has turned it around has been how the intensity’s been up everyday when we practice,” Daniels said. “We’ve just been picking up our effort and picking up our pace, which has led to victories.”