Glow of gym lights gets hot on court


As the Lights have dimmed on Front Street signaling the end of another Christmas season, the glow of gym lights is just getting hot on the basketball court for both the Tigers and Lady Tigers at Saint Mary’s. The Lady Tigers entered their Jan. 3 game at home against Winnfield on a three-game win streak coming out of the Many tournament.

Coach Tom Collins has the squad warmed up for district play and they have a 9-3 record and hold the current 3 seed in Division IV. The boy’s JV team opened action before the Lady Tigers and let me tell you it was a thriller till the end; a great game that preceded the Lady’s game. Another game of Tiger vs Tiger and the SMH team scored first.

R. Hale was fouled from beyond the arc and went to the line but only made one of three. At the 6:02 mark, Saint Mary’s had the early lead, five nil. The SMH Lady Tigers played a 2-3 zone for most of the game and it proved difficult for Winnfield to score against. After one quarter, Saint Mary’s had the 7-3 lead.

The first play of the second period has a set offensive play produce points as Maria Bienvenu scores in the paint. That would be a recurring event throughout the game. Winnfield tried to exert full-court press on Lady Tiger inbounds but the home Tigers handled it with ease moving the ball into the front court.

Saint Mary’s matched the pressure against Winnfield just before the half. The aggressive tone set by Saint Mary’s resulted in several steal and score opportunities and a ten-point lead at the break, 24 – 14.

The scoring continued for Saint Mary’s in the third and with 2:53 showing on the clock, the lead was extended to 35 – 19. That previously mentioned pressure by the home team gave them a 39 -21 advantage after three periods of play. Winnfield would make a slight run in the waning minute or two of the final period. It was much too little too late as Saint Mary’s pulled out a 52 – 38 victory over the 2A visiting Winnfield Tigers.

In the victory, Emily Maggio dropped in 16 pints and Maria Bienvenu added 14. Next up for the Lady Tigers was a road trip to Quitman before the Negreet tournament this coming weekend before district play starts.

The Ladies added a victory at Quitman winning 57 -42.

Next action on a full evening of basketball had the boys squaring off against the Winnfield Tigers too. The clock would tick down to the 6:02 mark before either team put points on the scoreboard after several trips up and down the court. Winnfield struck first with a second chance opportunity off an offensive rebound. The visiting Tigers elect to go with full-court press from the outset to try and intimidate Saint Mary’s.

The effort yielded few results and the score was tied at 7 with 3:02 remaining in the first period of action. Saint Mary’s big man, Thomas Howell, rattled the rim twice in that first quarter of action, but second chance points yielded a 13 -12 lead for Winnfield after one. Howell’s play in the paint was just too much for Winnfield and the resulting fouls put him at the free-throw line several times. He was nearly perfect at the line and the Winnfield team posted enough fouls to place Saint Mary’s in the double bonus early in the second period. 29 – 18 was the score in favor of Saint Mary’s halfway through the second.

Tony Arnold was tagged with a double technical foul and ejected from the game with 1:15 on the clock before half. At the half, the home Tigers had a 33-26 advantage. Winnfield emerged from the halftime break with pressure on the Saint Mary’s Tigers.

The pressure resulted in several steals and scores for Winnfield and pulled them to within three points 37-34. Scoring by Mitchell, Jones and Howell extend the lead though and SMH led 50 -34 with a mere 1:40 on the third quarter clock. Once again, the aggressive play of Winnfield lands them in foul trouble and they put Saint Mary’s in the bonus at the end of three periods of play.

The home Tigers lead extended to 15 points, 59-44, with half of the final period to play. The final score is 70-57. Saint Mary’s extends their win streak to nine games. Saint Mary’s holds a 10 and 4 record going into the Quitman game before the Negreet tournament.

In the victory, T. Howell posted 33 points, 24 boards, 4 blocks and I think 5 dunks. Dane Files added 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. DeAndre Goodly and Ty Jones each had 9 points.

The men also defeated Quitman on the road 51 – 48 Tuesday night.


Both Saint Mary’s teams, ladies and men, will be in action this weekend at Negreet.

Stats courtesy of assistant coach Jake Bankston.