With multiple guys still playing football, the St. Amant basketball team has had to push through with a skeleton crew, but the players they've been left with have impressed head coach Travis Uzee through two games.
With multiple guys still playing football, the St. Amant basketball team has had to push through with a skeleton crew, but the players they’ve been left with have impressed head coach Travis Uzee through two games.
On Thursday night, they went on the road and faced parish foe Donaldsonville. They held off a late 19-6 rally by the Tigers to capture a hard-fought 47-40 victory.
"I think it was a combination of missed free throws and having young kids in there,” Uzee said. “They're inexperienced, and they never had to do that, so this was a great opportunity for them to learn. We weren't as successful as we wanted to be at times, but I'm proud as hell for our kids. We started the first week the way we wanted to do it."
Coach Uzee said the Gators are down to eight players with their football guys still gone. This includes them being without leading scorer K.J. Franklin.
Even without Franklin, they were able to mow over Woodlawn in their opener, 48-34.
They jumped out to an early lead against Donaldsonville. A 3-pointer by Jahnoi Daley gave them a 13-9 advantage after a back-and-forth first quarter.
A bucket by Dwayne Johnson got the Tigers within 1 in the second period, but that’s when St. Amant began a run that proved to be the difference in the game.
Daley hit another trey and then pulled up for a mid-range jumper with just a few seconds left on the clock to stretch the St. Amant lead to 24-16 at the break.
The Gators kept it going in the second half. Their defense harassed the Donaldsonville offense and forced a barrage of turnovers.
St. Amant took full advantage on the other end. Daley converted two straight transition layups to help his team build up a 14-point advantage.
By the time the Tigers finally scored again, the St. Amant run had reached 17-0, and their lead was up to 18 points.
The Gators carried a commanding 39-21 advantage into the fourth quarter.
"We talked about it at halftime that we had some opportunities if we rebounded the basketball. We felt that we could get out in transition,” Uzee said. “We had a few good possessions in a row. Really, our defense created a lot of our offense—and not by trapping, but just by playing solid defense. We had about a quarter and a half where I thought we played outstanding on that end."
To start the fourth, Tyrone Johnson hit a jumper to put St. Amant up by 20. However, that’s when they started to get sloppy with the basketball.
After a string of turnovers, Donaldsonville was able to finally hit some shots.
Dwayne Johnson led the way as he scored 6 points in a run that cut the deficit down to 7.
Though, St. Amant was able to do just enough to pull it out, 47-40.
Daley led the way for the Gators as he scored a game-high 18 points. Tyrone Johnson had 10, Jimmie Pittman scored 9 and Jerome Turner chipped in with 7.
Donaldsonville has also had to deal with multiple players being gone for the football playoffs. This includes one of their best offensive stars, Ladarius Jackson.
They have fallen to 0-2 to start the season.
In their loss to St. Amant, Dwayne Johnson scored 10.
Coach Uzee is thrilled with how hard his team continues to play, despite being shorthanded.
"We've played great,” Uzee said. “I hope the football team plays until the middle of December. If these guys can keep playing like this, I'm completely fine with it. We want to win a state championship in football, but if we keep playing like this, it doesn't matter what happens. I'm proud of these kids. They've worked hard for the last few months with some tough conditions."