It was going to be an historic night for St. James, regardless of the outcome.
The fact the Wildcats, the No. 26 seed, came away with a 37-32 win over Glen Oaks on Tuesday just made it all the more memorable.
Playing the first playoff game at home in the new school’s gym in Vacherie, the Wildcats upset Glen Oaks, the No. 10 seed, to advance to the Class 3A quarterfinals.
The Wildcats will play at Peabody on Friday in Alexandria. Peabody (31-4), the No. 2 Patterson 59-38 on Tuesday.
“I told them, “We have to battle No. 2, but somebody has to battle them. Why not us?” said Wildcats coach James Smith.
Despite a 15-19 record, the Wildcats have managed to end a playoff drought that lasted several years.
“I’ve never been to the playoffs before. It’s my senior and it feels good. I never will forget this night,” said Tonta “T.J” Octave.
In other playoff action involving River Parish teams, Riverside Academy defeated The Church Academy 101-42 in the Division III on Tuesday. On Monday, St. Charles Catholic was eliminated from the Division II playoffs on Monday with a 63-51 loss to David Thibodaux in Lafayette.
With a squad of only seven players, Glen Oaks a slowdown type of game, often burning off a minute or so on the clock per possession. That kept the Panthers from having to constantly run the floor and kept them out of foul trouble. Neither team was charged with a team foul in the opening quarter or reached the bonus situation in the first or second periods of the contest. It also kept the scoring down.
St. James jumped out to quick lead and managed to maintain it most of the night. The Wildcats fell behind briefly on a couple of occasions and eventually trailed by four points at the end of three quarters when Nicholas Honore hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds for the Panthers’ biggest lead of the game at 31-27.
The Wildcats cut away at the deficit and eventually regained the lead in the fourth quarter but couldn’t seem to put the Panthers away.
Clinging to a 35-32 lead, St. James guard Shamar Smith came up with a steal and found Octave for a rare fast-break layup to extend the Wildcats’ lead to five points with 2:03 left in the game.
“Shamar stole the ball. I was running. I saw him. He threw it up and I laid it up for two,” said Octave.
“Transition has been a big thing for us. That’s one of the things we want to do, we want to run. The kids think I don’t want them to run but I don’t stop them. That’s how we are going to run. Everybody has an assignment. If we line up and assign and do what we are supposed to do, it doesn’t guarantee anything but it gives us a great chance,” said Smith.
A basket by Savion Jones moments later made it a seven-point game at 39-32 with 1:30 left in the game.
Glen Oaks could get no closer than three points the rest of the way and when Smith scored on a layup with 17 seconds left, eight-point final margin represented St. James’ biggest lead of the game.
Smith and Keithon Burham had 12 points apiece for St. James while Octave chipped in 10, eight of which came in the third quarter.
James Weathers was the Panthers’ only double-figure scorer with 12 points.
St. James jumped out to a 6-0 lead with two baskets coming by Smith.
The Wildcats’ biggest lead of the first half came on a basket by Burham for a seven-point advantage at the 1:18 mark of the first quarter as St. James went on a 10-6 edge after one quarter.
With Glen Oak’s methodical pace on offense, neither team committed a team final in the opening quarter.
The first team foul for either squad came at the 3:39 mark of the second quarter when Tyler Hayes was fouled after making a basket. His missed free throw left the game tied 14-14.
Glen Oaks’ first lead of the game came on a basket by Tayshawn Well with 1:47 left in the first half but Kason Fletcher scored off an offensive rebound with 15 seconds left in the second quarter to give St. James a17-16 halftime edge.
Riverside Academy 101, The Church Academy 42: The Rebels came out a bit rusty after having an opening-round bye in the Division III playoffs but it didn’t last long as Riverside cruised past visiting The Church Academy on Tuesday.
“Our intensity picked up and our focus was good in the second quarter and third quarter. I felt our bench played really well, too. I was really pleased with the effort,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said.
Isaiah Bigham 22 points for Riverside, including five 3 pointers. He also pulled down eight rebounds.
Gage Larvadain had 23 points, DeJuan Daniels 20 and Brian Walker 16 for the Rebels.
The Rebels, the No. 4 seed will host Menard, the No. 5 seed, at 6 p.m. Friday night. Menard (19-12) advanced by defeating Northlake Christian 75-48 on Monday.
“It is going to be a big challenge. They have a really good team. They have a really good 6-8 kid and they have a solid team. Three of their losses came to the No. 2 seed in 4A in Leesville. We have a big test ahead of us on Friday,” Byrd said.
David Thibodaux 63, St. Charles Catholic 51: A key stretch in the third quarter doomed the Comets in their second-round Division II playoff loss on Monday night in Lafayette.
The Bulldogs (21-11) went on a 16-2 spree in the third quarter to blow out what had been a close game.
St. Charles (12-16) trailed 26-25 going into the second half before No. 5 David Thibodaux made its big run.
The Comets, the No. 12 seed, were led by Jason Bosco’s game-high 22 points. Joseph Mamou added 12 for the Comets.
Coby Harris had 15 points to pace the Bulldogs with Keishawn Harris chipping in 13 for David Thibodaux.
David Thibodaux advances to the Division II quarterfinals to take on the winner of the Thomas Jefferson-St. Thomas More game.