Rummel shocks St. Aug to end Knights win streak

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Corey Smooth
(Photo: Bill Arthurs)

METAIRIE – To have any chance at succeeding, you have to believe.

In the first season of a complete rebuilding process under Scott Thompson, the learning curve has been steep and the results slow to come. That has not deterred Rummel or Thompson from believing.

What many will not believe is that the Raiders shocked league-leading St. Augustine 60-54 in a District 9-5A contest Tuesday night in Metairie, snapping a 16-game win streak for the Purple Knights in handing them their first Catholic League loss.

It was a matter of poise under pressure for Rummel. After Jalvin Mitchell put the Purple Knights ahead with a 3-point play with 3:05 to play in the game, Corey Smooth put the Raiders back on top with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:45 to play and Rummel never trailed again, scoring the final eight points of the game.

Down the stretch, St. Augustine committed a pair of key turnovers, Aaron Thomas converted a layup off of one of the turnovers before Smooth calmly put the game away with a pair of free throws with six seconds left.

“I’m just very proud of our guys,” Thompson said. “We’ve been working extremely hard on being tough physically and mentally and coming together as a unit. I think that is starting to so through. We’re getting execution in our half-court offense, movement off the ball and guys playing unselfishly and playing with more confidence. I thought defensively, we limited the screen and roll and helped take away the passing lanes. They are a really good and a really well coached team. This was a great win for us.”

After Jaelen Sturgis hit a 3-pointer to open the game, St. Augustine went on a 7-0 run to take a 7-3 lead and later went on an 8-0 run to give the Purple Knights an 18-9 lead before the Raiders closed the quarter on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to 20-16. Devon Jefferson had 10 points in the quarter for St. Augustine, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Rummel opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 21-20 lead and built a 26-22 lead before the Purple Knights went on a 5-0 run and led 33-32 by halftime. Sturgis had 10 points in the half for the Raiders, including a pair of 3-pointers.

The Purple Knights visit Holy Cross in a showdown for first place in the Catholic League Friday night while the Raiders (8-18, 2-4) travel to face Brother Martin Friday night at 7 pm in a game that you can listen to on WGSO 990 AM and at WGSO.com.

St. Augustine turned up its defensive intensity in the third quarter, holding Rummel to just eight points to pull out to a 46-40 lead as Darius Henry hit a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter.

“We feel like the football players are starting to gel within the unit,” Thompson said. “They have bought in, worked hard and are in basketball-shape now. More than anything, they are playing for the pride they have in Archbishop Rummel High School.”

Smooth led the Raiders with 14 points.

“All Coach Thompson preaches is grit and confidence,” Smooth said. “We had it tonight. We are coming together as a team and we played great. We believed we would win. We came out determined to do so. They are a great team. It was hard work but it was worth it. This was a team effort. Everyone worked hard to make it happen. We work hard on defense in the gym every day.”

Sturgis had 13 points while Logan Diggs added nine points and Kade Rivera had eight points and five rebounds for Rummel. Henry topped St. Augustine with 12 points while Jefferson had 10, none after the first quarter. Jalvin Mitchell had nine points, six rebounds and four blocks. The Purple Knights committed five crucial turnovers in the final quarter. While most everyone will be surprised with the outcome, St. Aug coach Mitchell Johnson was not shocked.

“I am going to go back to when I first started coaching in the Catholic League,” Johnson said. “Anything can happen in the Catholic League. Tonight is one of those examples. You’ve got to give them credit. Those guys played well. Their coach is very good and they did a good job of executing their game plan. I just think tonight, Rummel was better than us. I was never comfortable, even with the lead after the third quarter. We had too many turnovers in the fourth quarter.”

The Purple Knights (26-3, 5-1) visit Holy Cross in a showdown for first place in the Catholic League Friday night while the Raiders (8-18, 2-4) travel to face Brother Martin Friday night at 7 pm in a game that you can listen to on WGSO, 990 AM and at WGSO.com.

“We will be ready for Holy Cross Friday night,” Johnson said.

Thompson led Brother Martin to a Class 5A state championship in 2010.

“This is a great school with a great history under Coach (Bill) Arthurs, Coach (Jim) Robarts, Coach (Rusty) Jones, Coach (Steve) Alfonso and Coach (Troy) Holley,” Thompson said. “We want to raise this program to that level again and we believe it can happen. That’s why I came here and wanted this job so much.”

St. Aug beat Holy Cross 59-52 at home on Jan. 2. The Purple Knights are a distant second to Scotlandville in the new LHSAA Division I power rankings released earlier today with the Tigers a very close third.

St. Augustine will host Rummel on Feb. 15 to conclude the regular season.

“I could not be in a better place,” Thompson said. “This win lets our kids know that hard work can pay off against really good teams.”

Smooth sees a difference in the program not just from a year ago but from weeks ago.

“This is the start of something new with Rummel basketball,” Smooth said. “We are going to be good.”

Final

St. Aug 20 13 13 8 54

Rummel 16 16 8 20 60

Scoring

St. Aug—Darius Henry 12, Devon Jefferson 10, Jalvin Mitchell 9, D’Mari Wiltz 7, Damon Landry 7, Dante’ Smith 6, Demarcus Robertson 3

Rummel—Corey Smooth 14, Jaelen Sturgis 13, Logan Diggs 9, Kade Rivera 8, Aaron Thomas 6, Garrett Schmitt 5, Colby Barrois 3

Rebounds

St. Aug 30, Rummel 2

Turnovers

St. Aug 10, Rummel 7

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