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Ponchatoula boys get opportunity to play for another Division I non-select title

St. Martin's rolls past Hamilton Christian in Division IV select semifinal

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA - No. 2 seed and defending state champion Ponchatoula wanted an opportunity to defend its Division I non-select state title. 

To do so, the Green Wave had to go through New Iberia in a state championship rematch. The Yellow Jackets threw everything and then some, but the Green Wave made some huge plays and free throws to advance to the state finals with a 34-26 victory.

New Iberia (28-6) slowed the pace down and relied on its defense. Otis Anderson and Wayne Randall scored a pair of layups, giving the Yellow Jackets an early 5-4 lead. Ponchatoula went to work in the paint with a pair of layups by Allen Graves and Cory Jackson, taking a 8-5 lead.

The Yellow Jackets bounced back with a pair of layups by Randall, taking a 12-10 lead. The Green Wave finished with a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Jarvis Labee, as Ponchatoula took a 13-12 lead at the half.

Ponchatoula (29-4) took control starting the second half when Graves scored a strong layup. Then Taj Jackson stepped up, scoring nine points in the third quarter, as the Green Wave outscored the Yellow Jackets, 13-4, in that quarter to take a 26-16 lead.

“Going into the locker room at halftime, coach told us that we need to step up. I figured that I need to step up, too.” said Taj Jackson. “If Graves and Jeremiah (Lewis) is not on, I figured that I have to be the one to step up for the team.”

Ponchatoula takes on New Iberia in the Division I non-select semifinals March 7, 2024.

Ponchatoula takes on New Iberia in the Division I non-select semifinals March 7, 2024.

Randall kept the Yellow Jackets in it with a driving layup and three-point play, cutting the lead to seven, 26-19. Ponchatoula put the game out of reach with a strong layup by Graves, as the Green Wave took a commanding 30-19 lead. They also made 9-of-14 free throws in the forth quarter.

“We checked off two of the three boxes. Control the pace, control the glass, and we had to make open shots. We didn’t make open shots (Thursday). Credit to them, that’s a good basketball team,” said New Iberia coach Chad Pourciau. “We wanted a rematch. Everybody kept talking about how they was beating people by 20 or 30 points. Not these guys, not this group.”

Ponchatoula shot 35 percent (11-for-31) from the field including 1-for-10 from the 3-point line. Taj Jackson led Ponchatoula with 14 points and four rebounds. Graves finished with nine points, 13 rebounds, three steals, two assists, and two blocks

Natchitoches Central boys reach Division I non-select title game after edging Ruston, 60-56

“That was a slugfest. Two heavyweight guys that’s standing in the middle of the ring punching at each other,” said Ponchatoula coach Thomas Taylor. “Chad did a heck of a job with the defensive plan. He had it scouted so well.

"We knew that this was going to be a tough defensive battle. The ball bounced our way. We made some key plays and Taj made some big shots for us.”

New Iberia shot 27 percent (10-for-37) from the field including 0-for-10 from the 3-point line. Randall led New Iberia with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Delahoussaye finished with seven points and four rebounds.

Ponchatoula advances to the Division I non-select title game against No. 5 seeded Natchitoches Central this Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Burton Complex.

Division IV select semifinal

St. Martin's 62, Hamilton Christian 33

No. 2 seeded St. Martin's has been through the fire of Marsh Madness.

The Saints made their first trip ever last season, but lost to eventual state champion Northwood-Lena. Head coach Mike Odom knew that this was just the beginning with the team returning this season.

St. Martin’s returned to Lake Charles and this time they came out getting one step closer to pure gold in a 62-33 victory over Hamilton Christian Thursday at the Burton Complex.

St. Martin’s (25-6) showed its experience starting the game as Ashton Oliver hit a pair of driving layups, taking an early 10-5 lead. Hamilton Christian (16-10) bounced back with a driving layup by Javon Vital, cutting the lead to 10-8.

The Saints answered with a pair of 3-pointers by Matthew Weaver. Then Cooper Odom chipped in with a 3 of his own, extending the lead to 26-18. The Warriors bounced back to finish the first half when Destin Love knocked down a 3; then Vital made another jumper, cutting the lead to three, 26-23, at the half.

St. Martin’s took control starting the second half when Oliver knocked down a 3; then Patrick LaForge scored a pair of driving layups. Odom and LaForge came back strong with another pair of layups.

The Saints outscored the Warriors, 36-10, in the second half to take a commanding 43-29 lead. They also shot 48 percent (21-for-43) field goals and 75 percent (15-for-20) from the free-throw line.

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St. Martin’s had three players scoring in double figures. Weaver led the Saints with 24 points and five rebounds. Odom finished with 16 points, two rebounds, and two assists, while LaForge scored 10 points, 15 rebounds and five rebounds.

Hamilton Christian had two players scoring in double figures. Love led the Warriors with 11 points. Vital finished with 10 points, four rebounds and two assists.

St. Martin's advances to the Division IV select state title game in an all-Metairie affair against Crescent City this Saturday at 2 p.m. at The Burton Complex.

-- Vashon Jones | @SBLiveLA