By Trent Friedel, exclusive to the Times
Saint Mary’s boys’ basketball hosted the Houma Christian Warriors Tuesday night in regional action. The Warriors only won five games this season. Yes, you read that correctly, five games but that was somehow enough to earn the number 12 seed in Division IV. They beat Westminster Christian 51 – 36 to move on to play a talented #5 Saint Mary’s team that had a first round bye.
The Warriors had the ball first to start the game but squandered the opportunity. They backpedaled to play a 2-3 zone defense. Parker Bankston stole the ball and pushed ahead to the front court while Thomas Howell trails. Yep, toss off the glass to a flying Howell for the Phi Slamma Jammer dunk. Howell scored on the next trip down the court from beyond the arc for three.
Tristen Mitchell scored in the paint next. Howell heads to the free throw line after being fouled as he went hard to the goal. He adds points and before you know it, the Tigers were leading 11 – 2. Saint Mary’s played a 1-3-1 defense against the Warriors. Bankston starts to heat up from downtown adding three balls to the growing Warrior deficit.
The Bankston onslaught had Saint Mary’s leading 40 – 8 before Wes Spry nails back to back threes to make it 41 – 14. Coach Collins called a time out to slow the Warriors. Houma Christian transitions to the full court press after the timeout. Spry hit another three with 59 seconds on the clock making it 42 – 17. Saint Mary’s had the ball with 20 seconds and Howell went to work driving the lane on the left side and got the tip-in rebound to fall making it 46 -17 at the break. Bankston had six three-point scores in the first half and Howell had 17 points.
Houma Christian opened the third period with the ball. Hendricks was good from the paint after a trip or two down the court and the SMH lead was 50 – 21. The lead remained close to 30 points from there on. Bankston had a great offensive play where he drove against the zone and as it collapsed on him, he dished the assist to a waiting Smith who banked in the layup. The Tigers were leading 59 – 29 with 2:16 on the third quarter clock. After three periods, Tigers led 65 – 31 and the Warriors are unable to close the gap.
The opening minutes of the fourth had the Tigers back up by 30 at 71 – 41 after Howell slams down another rim rattling dunk. That lead continued as the Warriors tried in vain to slow the Tigers by again trying the full court press with a 1:40 on the clock. Saint Mary’s emerged victorious 83 -49.
Howell chalked up 39 points aided by Bankston with 19 and Mitchell with 10. Wes Spry was the leading scorer for the Warriors.
Saint Mary’s will travel to play #4 Opelousas Catholic Friday, March 1 in hopes of advancing to the State semi-final game. If they can get past the No. 4 seed, they likely would face No. 1 defending State Champion Lafayette Christian. A familiar foe for the Tigers.