Dunham readies for St. James

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLANDDunham's Quinton Thomas scores against Episcopal earlier this season.
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLANDDunham's Quinton Thomas scores against Episcopal earlier this season.

St. James High boys basketball coach James Smith tempered his team’s celebration after a 61-54 bidistrict playoff win over Catholic-New Iberia with a dose of reality.

“I told our guys the only thing we’re guaranteed right now is 32 more minutes of basketball,” Smith said. “If we want anything else, we have to earn it. We know that won’t be easy.”

The 14th-seeded Wildcats (18-12) play at No. 3 Dunham (28-4) in Class 2A regional-round action set for 7 p.m. Monday.

There’s an added benefit to playing on Monday to avoid any Fat Tuesday conflicts. The St. James-Dunham contest is literally the only game in town.

“I was a little surprised that more teams didn’t decide to play Monday,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “We were willing to do that, and so was St. James.

“St. James doesn’t have the height they had in the past, but they’re very athletic and like to get to the rim. They like to change defenses a lot, and we have to be aware of all those things.”

Dunham got a career-high 38-point performance from Leviticus Bradley in its 78-56 victory over District 6-2A rival Northeast in its bidistrict game Friday.

Quinton Thomas, who averages 23 points and 11 rebounds a game, added 25 for the Tigers, now winners of 14 straight.

Bradley adds 12.0 a game, while Dylon Maggio has a 10.0 average. One advantage the Tigers should have is size with the presence of 6-foot-6 Matt Williams inside.

St. James counters with a lineup of players who all stand in the 6-foot to 6-foot-2 range. Jason Favorite (6-0) leads the Wildcats with a 15.0 scoring average, while his twin, Jonathan, is at 12.0. D’Kwan Sandolph (6-1), who ranked among the state’s receiving leaders in football, adds 10.0 per game.

“We’ve got three new starters this year,” said Smith, whose team played in an area 3A league last season but is now part of a New Orleans-based 2A league. “They’ve done well. In the playoffs, you have to get better with every game.

“We need to control the pace and communicate, especially on defense. Dunham likes to run. We’ll run too, but only when it’s to our advantage.”

Pixley also has a list of must-dos for the Tigers. The Dunham coach said boxing out under the boards in order to secure rebounds that can generate fastbreak points will be crucial.

“We’re at our best when we can get out in transition,” Pixley said. “We need to take advantage of those chances and limit what they do.”