By Trent Friedel, exclusive to the Times
Saint Mary’s basketball started the New Year in fine fashion and continued their winning ways after the holiday break. The Tigers had been on hiatus since Dec. 20 when they beat LaSalle. Saint Mary’s gets the tip off to start action with Thomas Howell easily out jumping the smaller Mustangs. The Tigers cannot convert possessions into points early on. Rapides hits back to back 3-point shots to take an early lead.
Parker Bankston finds his range and nails a three of his own to narrow the score. Bankston then gets a steal and pushes the ball into the front court and hits Howell going to goal for the slam dunk. Tony Arnold gets in on the action and hits a baseline three to tie things up at 8. Arnold gets fouled on the next Tiger possession and converts his free throws to allow the Tigers to take their first lead of the game 10 – 8 with 3:43 left in the first. The Mustangs double team Howell in the low post and it opens perimeter shooting to the Tigers advantage.
The fast play of both teams in transition has resulting fouls leading to opportunities for old style three-point plays from the charity stripe. The teams do well at the free throw line and the score is tied at 18 after the first period of play. Dane Files comes off the bench and has a good showing for Saint Mary’s. The Tigers are up by five, 27 – 23 with 3:43 remaining before the half. Rapides tied the score at 33 with under a minute to go and the teams would trade score once more before the half to make in even at 35. Saint Mary’s emerged from the locker room and coach Thomas Collins began to find a way to open-up a lead. The Tigers go on a 6 – 0 run to start the third and lead 41 – 35.
Rapides could not find a way to get back to a lead in the game. Tigers get the win over 2A Rapides and improve to 10 – 4 on the season. Howell finished with 22 points, 25 boards and 5 swats. Arnold was very productive adding 19 points for the home team. After the victory over the Mustangs to start 2019, Saint Mary’s went on the road to compete just down Hwy 6 in the Negreet tournament. Saint Mary’s faced off against Ebarb Friday afternoon and exerted their will from the get-go.
The Tigers win easily in the contest 94 – 58 and Bankston was on fire. Bankston dropped 38 points on Ebarb and Arnold added 12. Howell completed a rare quadruple double scoring 21 points, snagging 22 rebounds, delivering 10 assists and swatting 10 shots. Bankston was 10 of 13 from beyond the arc. Florien would be the next victim for the Tigers. The Florien cats fall to the Tigers 89 – 58 and a host of Saint Mary’s players add to their stats. Bankston had 21 points, Howell added a double-double, 21 points and 16 rebounds, and Arnold added 21 points.
Saint Mary’s improves to a 12 – 4 record and will return to district play against University Academy on the road.