ST. AMANT — Christian Life’s high-scoring offense had a shaky start so the Crusaders turned to their defense Friday night at St. Amant.
Forcing St. Amant to take tough shots while cleaning the backboards, Christian Life rallied from a five-point deficit and went on to post a convincing 81-59 nondistrict win.
Christian Life (16-2) came into the contest averaging 75 points, but trailed 12-7 after one quarter. Ludovic Kader, who led five Crusaders in double figures with 17 points, helped turn the tide with a double-pumping dunk to start the second quarter.
St. Amant (14-9) had turnovers on its next three possessions, and Christian Life was off and running on a 19-2 surge. Four different Crusaders made 3-pointers during the run giving Christian Life a 26-14 lead with two minutes left in the half.
The lead was 31-17 at halftime.
“We did some things we wanted to early, and then they made an exciting dunk,” St. Amant coach Travis Uzee said. “It changed the momentum. I think our guys got distracted. We had a couple of turnovers and then it snowballed on us.”
Kader got support from Sam Williams, who made three 3-pointers on his way to 14 points.
Kentrell Garnett and Brennan Williams each made two 3-pointers and totaled 10 apiece while Jacob Kibodi pitched in with 13.
“(St. Amant) slowed down our transition game and forced us to play slow,” CLA coach Stephen Dale said of the first quarter.
“I thought the biggest thing was that we started getting some stops, and we were able to run off the stops.”
Despite making just three of 16 from the field in the first quarter, CLA shot 50 percent for the game (29 of 58) and made nine of 21 3-pointers. Boosted by an 11-6 edge on the offensive glass, the Crusaders also had a 41-26 rebounding advantage.
St. Amant was led by Kameron Kelson’s 23 points while K.J. Franklin had 13.
In the first quarter, Franklin made two baskets as St. Amant took a 6-3 lead. Later on, Terique Franklin was fouled while making a 3-pointer, and converted the free throw as the Gators took a 12-7 lead after one quarter.
CLA inbounded to start the second and worked the ball to Kader on the right baseline. From there he drove for a basket-rattling dunk that ignited his teammates. St. Amant got within 17-14 on Kelson’s basket with 5:37 left in the half, but the Gators missed their next eight shots.
Christian Life heated up with 3-pointers from Kader, Brennan Williams, Garnett, Sam Williams and Marquis Webb to seize control.