Ouachita tops East Ascension in overtime

BOSSIER CITY — Senior Chris Sumbler made seven 3-pointers, including two in overtime, as top-seeded Ouachita Parish recovered from squandering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to defeat East Ascension 82-78 in a LHSAA Class 5A North Regional semifinal at the CenturyLink Center.

Sumbler’s 31-point effort led Ouachita into next week’s state championship game in Monroe, where the Lions (28-4) will face No. 2 seed Scotlandville.

“I just felt amazing,” Sumbler said. “To have that kind of a night to send us to the state championship game — it couldn’t be any better.”

The Spartans (27-4) were relentless, despite not leading after the midway point of the first quarter. They erased the 14-point fourth-quarter advantage — Ouachita’s largest lead — and had a chance to win with Chad Hill at the free-throw line with his team trailing by a single point in the final seconds.

Hill made his first free throw, but missed the second. Ouachita rushed down the court, but Cameron Sims failed on a tip-in, and Sumbler’s heave was off the mark to complete regulation play.

“It’s hard to come up with the words after that one,” East Ascension coach Kenny Almond said. “We made an amazing comeback in the second half. I’m proud of these guys.”

Sumbler made two 3-pointers in overtime to give Ouachita a seven-point advantage, but the Spartans wouldn’t go away.

East Ascension’s leading scorer on the season, senior guard Javaughn Williams, nailed a 3-pointer following a missed dunk by Ouachita to close the gap to 77-75 with 1:16 left. The Spartans cut the deficit to two points with 11.4 seconds left in overtime, but Lions senior Jimari Jones made two free throws to finally put the game out of reach.

“We just had to hang on,” Ouachita coach Casey Jones said.

Almond wasn’t thrilled with the referees.

“They don’t call games that way in Baton Rouge,” said Almond, who lost 6-foot-7 forward Jacardo Hawkins after the star committed his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter.

Ouachita took a 25-17 halftime lead with the help of five 3-pointers — three from Sumbler. The difference in the first 16 minutes was East Ascension’s struggles from the field. The Spartans were 6-of-29 from the floor (20.7 percent), including 1-of-8 from 3-point range.

East Ascension cut the deficit to 35-32 before Sumbler nailed a pair of 3-pointers late in the third quarter to quell one of several Spartans’ rallies.

Josh Harris added 15 points, including 13 of 17 free throws, for Ouachita, while Jones chipped in 11. Hill led the way for East Ascension with 18 points. Hawkins (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Williams (13 points, 11 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for the Spartans. Jeremy McInnis also added 13 points for East Ascension.