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Consistency remains a constant for Episcopal School of Acadiana boys basketball program

With Division V select regional playoff win, Falcons qualify for their seventh consecutive quarterfinal

By Mike Coppage | Photos by Greg Hernandez 

CADE, La. - The Episcopal School of Acadiana boys basketball program has been a model of consistency during the seven-year tenure of coach Jason Fatheree.

The Falcons have made seven straight quarterfinal appearances, the latest coming via a 51-45 Division V select regional playoff win against 10th-seeded Northside Christian of Crowley on Monday night at ESA.

The seventh-seeded Falcons knotted the score at 7-all on a bucket from 6-foot-3 senior forward Wilt Hoggatt midway through the first quarter. Semar Flugence sank two free throws on the next trip down the floor to give ESA a permanent lead.

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ESA (18-17) led by as many as eight points twice in the second quarter. With the Falcons ahead 22-18, Hoggatt sank three straight shots for a 29-21 halftime lead.

He shot 75 percent from the floor (6-of-8) on his way to finishing with 16 points for ESA, which will travel to Baton Rouge for a date with second-seeded Family Christian (22-14) at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

"Will has played the guard position a lot the last few years," Fatheree said. "When the other pieces graduated, he slid into the post. He still has the ability to stretch the floor and knock down the open shot.

"The opposing team has to stay on him; it opens up the rest of the floor for other people."

The Falcons increased the lead to 36-27 on a pair of Jacob Vilar free throws with 3.2 seconds left in the third quarter.

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The Warriors (15-21) kept plugging, however, trimming the deficit to 40-37 on a corner 3-pointer from Gage Daigle with five minutes to go.

Hoggatt answered with a free throw. Flugence followed with two baskets, a finger-roll and a follow, to push the lead back to eight points, 45-37.

Northside Christian post Caleb Hanks, who led his team with 15 points, scored five straight points to bring his team within three, 45-42.

The Warriors drew an offensive foul on ESA's next possession, but Flugence stole the ball and got it to Vilar for a bucket.

The 6-foot-2 sophomore snatched a defensive rebound with his team up 47-42 and blocked a shot in the final minutes. Flugence scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.

"He's been our sixth man all year because of his energy," Fatheree said of Flugence. "The energy he brings off the bench is huge. We've kept him in that role; he's just as talented as anybody on our team.

"We've kept him in that role because, number one, he's a humble kid who embraces that role. Number two, he just brings a lot off the bench matchup-wise, offensively and defensively."

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Vilar, a 6-foot-1 junior, came into the game averaging 20 points per outing. He scored 22 on Monday.

He drained back-to-back 3-pointers from the top of the key in the first quarter before scoring seven points (and going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line) in the third quarter.

"He's been our rock on the offensive end all year long," Fatheree said of Vilar. "He's played a lot of minutes, toughed it out and been the center of every opposing team's game plan. He's found a way to get it done all year.

"His offensive motor carries us a lot of the time. We ask him to do a lot on defense, too. It's a hard role he's got, but he's embraced it and has really grown this year."

The Falcons have achieved success despite playing the entire season without senior forward Ian Allum, a three-sport star who also missed soccer season with an injury. Fatheree points to his team's blue-collar work ethic as the catalyst.

"We have a lot of kids who give us everything they have," he said. "That's all I can ask for as a coach. Come out, play hard and we'll take care of the rest."

If ESA takes care of Family Christian on Thursday, it will propel the Falcons into a fourth straight semifinal berth.