Story by: Jonathan Willard/Student Reporter
In a matchup described as a defensive slugfest, the St. Augustine Purple Knights won a critical game to continue play in the LHSAA 5A State Playoffs. With their high school careers on the line, seniors Devante Jones and Patrick Smith Jr. led their team to the win against the home Comeaux Spartans. The game was a defensive struggle that went down to the wire, ending with an unusually low score of 43-41. Devante Jones finished with 23 points and several steals while Patrick Smith Jr. protected the paint and sealed the win with a last second shot for the Knights.
The first two, scoreless minutes of the game indicated the type of battle it would be between the two great teams. Both teams began the game forcing several turnovers and struggling to find a basket. Neither team could maintain a steady nor large lead in the first half. Comeaux stayed in the game through their three point shooting while St. Aug’s primary scorers, Devante Jones and Caleb Daniels could not find their outside shots. The Spartans and Purple Knights went blow for blow, as the first half ended with St. Aug leading 16-15.
Both teams came out slow to start the second half, with neither squad scoring for the first two and a half minutes. As scoring began to pick up, senior Devante Jones gave the visiting Purple Knights a 24-17 lead after knocking down back to back three pointers. Despite St. Augustine’s momentum, Comeaux kept the game close thanks to their outside shooting. The third quarter ended with a Devante Jones layup to give St. Aug a 30-24 lead.
The Comeaux Spartans came into the fourth quarter on a mission. Guards DeVaughn Thomas and Michael Smith brought their team back into the game with deadly shooting. As time expired, Comeaux worked their offense for a long possession that ended with a Michael Smith layup, evening up the score at 41 with 8 seconds remaining. In a frantic effort to get a shot up, Cedric Jones inbounded the ball to Sai Fisher. Fisher then weaved through traffic and split defenders with a bounce pass to Patrick Smith Jr. Smith ended the game with a tie-breaking shot as the buzzer went off in Comeaux’s gym.
The tenth seeded Purple Knights pulled off a fantastic win, upsetting the seventh seeded Comeaux Spartans after previously losing to them in a December tournament. The Knights knew what was needed to win, after being sent home last year in a buzzer-beating loss to the lower seeded Carencro Bears.
St. Augustine will host third seed Scotlandville Hornets in a quarterfinal playoff game at St. Augustine’s Watson Memorial Gym on Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m.