By LaMar Gafford
LENA — Achieving 20-20 games has become commonplace for St. Mary’s senior Thomas Howell, but there is one stat that means much more to him.
Looking to keep pace with District 3-1A leader Logansport, the Tigers did just that Tuesday with a 58-35 win over Northwood.
Howell, a ULM signee, fought through double teams all night to post 20 points, 21 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to give his team the victory.
“I just come out and play my hardest every night,” Howell said. “I don’t think about stats, I just try to win.”
The goal was to feed Howell early on, as he scored 8 of the Tigers’ first 12 points to get them going on a 12-4 run — capping that stretch with a powerful two-handed tomahawk dunk.
With him getting a lot of attention inside, it opened things up for the rest of his teammates. Triston Michael had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Dane Files, D’Andre Goodley, Tony Arnold and Ty Jones also hit shots.
“The other kids are coming around and hitting big shots,” St. Mary’s coach Tom Collins said. “It was a little shaky late in the game, so we have to work on that, but it was a good win for us.”
Northwood (10-11, 3-3 District 3-1A) did not go away easily as freshman Omarion “Diddy” Layssard scored 11 points with a pair of dunks to try to get his team going, but it was not enough to keep up with St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s (20-5, 6-1) will get that chance to tie for the district lead Friday when Logansport visits Natchitoches, while the Gators will travel to LaSalle.
ST.MARY’S 44, NORTHWOOD 43 (GIRLS)
While Northwood showed what its future can be, St. Mary’s showed why it is still the team to beat in District 3-1A.
In a back-and-forth battle, the Lady Tigers outlasted the Lady Gators, 44-43, to earn their eighth straight win and to remain a game ahead of Logansport prior to their key tilt in Natchitoches Friday.
The final two minutes were frantic, as the Lady Tigers and Northwood exchanged the lead four times — with the Lady Tigers taking the lead for good with 11 seconds left after free throws from Jensen Parker and Ragan Hale clinched the win. Northwood scored on a layup by Da’Zya Johnson to cut it within one but could not draw a foul as time expired.
The Lady Gators showed resilience throughout the night with Elondra Williams scoring 17 points to help lead them out of an early eight-point deficit. However, Maria Bienvenu scored 12 points to keep St. Mary’s afloat.
St. Mary’s moves to 19-4 overall and 7-0 in District 3-1A play, while the Lady Gators go to 13-7 and 3-3, respectively.