By Mike Kiral
Ponchatoula head coach Dustin Easley wanted to play more up-tempo against St. Thomas Aquinas in the Tres Bridges Classic at Albany Saturday evening.
Instead, the game turned into another defensive struggle for the Green Wave with the Falcons holding on for a 51-46 victory.
Ponchatoula rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and had a chance to tie it at 48 but LaDonovan Grannison and Javeon Walker missed on shots in the final 15 seconds left. Zay Jackson then put the game with a breakaway dunk with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Earlier in the tournament, Hammond used a 24-4 second-half run to rally past Springfield, 75-67.
St. Thomas 51, Ponchatoula 46
St. Thomas took a 46-36 lead on two Blake Duncan free throws with 3:05 left in the game. John Brown started the Ponchatoula comeback with a layup. After two Cole Plummer free throws, Grannison buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 48-46 with 18.7 seconds left.
Walker then got a steal and found Grannison inside. Walker grabbed Grannison’s miss but his follow went off the rim. Jackson got the ball on the break and was intentionally fouled while going in for the dunk, adding the free throw to seal the win.
Walker’s jumper with four seconds left gave the Green Wave a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Walker then opened the second period with a 3 from the left wing. But Stephen Wronkoski answered with seven straight free throws to regain the lead for St. Thomas. After Johnathon Lyons scored off a pass from Walker to tie it at 17 with 44 seconds left in the half, Brandon Robertson found DJ Cannon inside to give the Falcons a 19-17 halftime lead.
Ponchatoula tied the game at 21 with two free throws by Brown with 6:13 left in the third. But Wronkoski followed with a put back and a 3 to make it 26-21. Another 3 by Cannon gave the Falcons a 10-point lead before D.J. Mobley hit a short jumper to make it 34-26 going into the final quarter.
Cannon’s 3 from the left wing to start the fourth gave St. Thomas its biggest lead at 37-26. Brown scored off a pass from Danny Dunn to get the deficit down to 41-36 before Wronkoski hit a jumper to make it 44-36 with 3:29 left.
Wronkoski finished with a game-high 19 points. Jackson added 16 points for the Falcons.
Brown had 14 points and Walker 13 for Ponchatoula.
Hammond 75, Springfield 67
Springfield took its biggest lead of the game at 56-43 on a layup by Kevin Henderson with less than 30 seconds left in the third quarter. Domonick McCoy began the Hammond comeback with two free throws in the final seconds to make it 56-45 at the end of the quarter.
The Tors opened the fourth quarter with eight unanswered points, pulling to within 56-53 on a pass from Terrence Bridges to Mikel Henry. Darron McKigney hit a jumper for Springfield but after a layup by Kylan Douglas, Henry hit a 3 to make it 60-59. Henry then converted a three-point play to give Hammond a 62-60 lead with 4:24 left.
Hammond stretched the lead to 69-62 on two free throws by Douglas. Cody Scott knocked down a 3 for Springfield to make it a four-point game. But Bridges converted a three-point play off a pass from Henry to push the lead back to 72-65 with 1:15 remaining.
“We really picked up the pressure in the second half and made their guards work real hard and forced a lot of turnovers,” Hammond head coach Brent Grigas said.
Henry led all scorers with 24 points. Douglas tossed in 20 and Bridges 13.
Scott had 21 points for Springfield. Henderson added 14 points.
Springfield led 17-8 following a layup by Tony Patrick with 2:30 left in the first quarter. Hammond pulled to within 19-15 on a layup by Ricky Burris at the end of the quarter, then tied it on one by Douglas early in the second period.
Springfield scored the next six points, taking a 25-19 lead on a put back by Scott. The Bulldogs would take a 32-31 lead into the break.
Courtesy of the Hammond Daily Star