Graves, Ponchatoula dominate at free throw line in boys basketball semifinal win over Ruston
LAKE CHARLES – When you have a huge, dominant force and when you are lethal at the free throw line when it matters most, you are simply not going to lose.
Junior Allen Graves was that force and Ponchatoula was that team that could not miss from the line Thursday night as the third-seeded Green Wave downed No. 2 Ruston 62-55 in the Non-Select Division I semifinals at Burton Coliseum.
Graves did it all, scoring 20 points with 19 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks. That included 10 of 11 shooting from the free throw line. Graves is the latest in a superb basketball family, following brother Marshall, who played at LSU and sister Amoura, now playing at Auburn.
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Ponchatoula put on a show, sinking 19 straight free throw attempts before missing one in the final seconds. For the entire game, the Green Wave made 25 of 27 from the line (92%).
The first quarter saw Ponchatoula jump out to a four-point lead before Ruston closed the period on a 4-0 run to tie the game 11-11.
The Bearcats extended their run to 10-0 in the second quarter to take a 15-11 lead before the Green Wave answered with a 6-0 run and took a 25-21 lead. Ruston tied it by halftime as Braylan McNeal dunked at the buzzer to even things. Allen Graves had 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the half for the Green Wave while McNeal had eight points and five rebounds for the Bearcats.
Graves continued to dominate in many phases in the third quarter as did McNeal for Ruston. The Green Wave took a 37-32 lead before the Bearcats cut the deficit to 37-35 going to the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, the Green Wave pulled away for the win.
Jeremiah Lewis finished with 13 points while Trey Parham had 12 points for Ponchatoula. Starter Taj Jackson left the game in the final minute injured so his availability for the championship game may be in doubt.
McNeal led Ruston (29-4) with 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks before fouling out. Lontravious Dimmer also scored points and Jamadrion Lillard had nine points and seven rebounds.
Ponchatoula (28-7) advances to the final Saturday at 8 p.m. to face the winner of No. 1 New Iberia and No. 4 Walker.
PHS 11 14 12 25 62
RUS 11 14 10 20 55
PHS—Allen Graves 20, Jeremiah Lewis 13, Trey Parham 12, Taj Jackson 6, Cameron Collier 8, Cedric Braziel 2, Chaleb 1
RUS—Braylan McNeal 16, Lontravious Dimmer 16, Jamadrion Lillard 9, Zny’Avion Scott 4, Joran Parker 4, Aidan Anding 4, Zheric Hill 2
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…