GONZALES — Dutchtown was on the verge of mounting an 11-point comeback on the road in front of a rowdy East Ascension crowd and needed just one basket to take its first lead.
But right on cue, Spartans guard Javaughn Williams nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to put East Ascension ahead by four, sparking a 15-4 run to end the game that gave EAHS a 55-43 win Friday night .
“Javaughn’s shot in the corner was big,” said EAHS coach Kenny Almond. “That might have been the turning point. We were lucky to win. They’ve got a good team, and it was a great game.”
It took two minutes for the game’s first bucket, which came on a monster dunk from East Ascension forward Ja’Cardo Hawkins. The Spartans then broke ahead to a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
A 17-point second quarter gave EAHS (24-3, 7-1) an 11-point halftime lead, but the contest was far from over.
With the crowd jostling back and forth as much as the teams, Dutchtown (20-6, 5-2) opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run to cut the lead to two and head into the fourth quarter down, 36-32.
“We made no adjustments,” Dutchtown coach Patrick Hill said when asked what changed after halftime. “We just went out and tried to play our brand of basketball. And it worked. There wasn’t anything we did strategically; we just came out and played.”
But following Williams’ big shot, EAHS drained eight clutch free throws down the stretch to fend off the Griffins’ comeback and secure the win.
“We fought back, but then we let it go,” Hill said. “We showed some energy to get back in the game, but we didn’t have enough to sustain it.”
Dutchtown held EAHS to just six third-quarter points before giving up 19 in the fourth quarter.
“I thought they got up into us a little bit,” Almond said of the second half.
“We tried to run some sets, and they kept us out of it. Give them some credit with that. We just went back to some base stuff and tried to get Ja’Cardo (Hawkins) moving.”
That strategy worked.
With a size disadvantage, Dutchtown struggled to slow down Hawkins, who finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and a blocked shot. Hill said, “I don’t know if you can” stop Hawkins when he’s on his game.
Williams added 17 points and four rebounds for the Spartans.
Patrick Thompson led Dutchtown with 13 points, seven rebounds and a steal, followed by Leonard Scott who chipped in 11 points, three boards and a steal.
The win gives the Spartans sole possession of first place in the league and avenge a 64-52 loss to Dutchtown earlier.
Dutchtown dropped to 20-6 and 5-2 in the district.
“We’ve corrected one that we lost, and I thought we played better this time around,” Almond said. “But first place is fleeting if you don’t take care of it. We’ve got three more games.”