ST. AUGUSTINE 60, HOLY CROSS 52
at St. Augustine, Friday (Jan. 31), Catholic League (District 9-5A)
Records: St. Augustine, 24-1 (7-0); Holy Cross, 17-10 (4-3)
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: 3 KEY MOMENTS
- Friday’s Catholic League showdown between two of the district’s top two teams seemed all but decided after back-to-back buckets by Jaron Pierre gave St. Aug a 53-40 lead with 5:19 to go in the fourth quarter. Holy Cross refused to pack it in, though, and fired back with consecutive triples by Tyler Kirkwood and Jeremy Lindsey. The run continued when Hunter Hidalgo came up with a putback cutting the deficit to 53-48 with 2:51 left in the game, but Pierre was there once again scoring two straight baskets to help St. Aug put the game away.
- Friday’s game shifted in the second quarter when St. Aug implemented its 1-3-1 zone defense. The length and athleticism of the Purple Knights combined with a different look from their man-to-man defense gave Holy Cross fits as they managed just three points in the second period. Meanwhile, St. Aug was still effective on offense allowing them to flip an 18-12 deficit after the first quarter to a 31-21 advantage by halftime.
- St. Aug kept the pressure on in the third quarter extending its lead as high as 47-32 after a layup by D’Mari Wiltz with 1:21 left until the start of the fourth. They never allowed their lead to fall below double digits, but Holy Cross did close the quarter scoring four straight points to keep themselves within striking distance down, 47-36, going into the last eight minutes.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jaron Pierre, St. Augustine
Pierre put up a “cool” 23 points as he has now become one of the metro area’s bonafide scorers. The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter continued to show he’s more than just a pretty jumper scoring in a variety of ways from transition points to midrange jumpers and of course, the 3-ball. He finished with a game-high 23 points against the Tigers on 9-of-16 shooting including 2-of-6 from long range. Pierre had his best stretch during the most important time of the game scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter to help St Aug secure the victory.
- St. Augustine was once again without one of the state’s best coaches in Mitchell Johnson, who has now missed at least the last six games dating back to January 14. Purple Knights Athletic Director Barrett Rey said Johnson is still out for personal reasons.
- D’Mari Wiltz was just as vital to St. Aug’s success Friday night as Jaron Pierre. Wiltz usually takes on the role of distributor for the Purple Knights, but he did the job himself more times than not Friday night. The 5-foot-10 senior put up 18 points against the Tigers, and also dished out four assists while coming up with two steals. Wiltz did his best work in the second quarter scoring 10 points as St. Aug outscored Holy Cross 19-3 in the period.
- St. Augustine’s winning streak now stands at 18. The Purple Knights’ only defeat was a 39-38 loss to Madison Prep on November 29 in a non-district meeting at St. Aug. Meanwhile, Holy Cross’ win streak ended five games with Friday’s loss.
- St. Augustine also won the first matchup between the two teams, 56-45, in the Catholic League opener on January 7 at Holy Cross.
- St. Aug and Holy Cross checked in at Nos. 2 and 7 in the latest LHSAA Division I power rankings released on Thursday. Scotlandville is the top team in the Division.
St. Aug assistant coach Deion Taylor:
Holy Cross coach Mister Kirkwood:
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Holy Cross | 18 | 3 (21) | 15 (36) | 16 – 52
St. Augustine | 12 | 19 (31) | 16 (47) | 13 – 60
Holy Cross: Jeremy Lindsey, 17; Tyler Kirkwood, 11; Aaron Ursin, 8; Dominic Dejoie, 8; Hunter Hidalgo, 4; Michael Crossley, 2; Miles Metze, 2.
St. Augustine: Jaron Pierre, 23; D’Mari Wiltz, 18; Eric Williams, 6; Jason Malbrue, 4; Ashton Trufant, 3; Nasir DeGruy, 2; Jaden Clark, 2; Jaheim Walters, 2.
Up Next: St. Augustine and Holy Cross both continue Catholic League play on Tuesday. The Purple Knights travel to Shaw at 7:15 p.m. while the Tigers host John Curtis.