With a lineup of top Class 5A schools, Ruston and Haughton, Class 2A stalwarts Lakeview and Winnfield and one of the top girls programs in the state in Ouachita Christian, you might think the three day tournament that was just played was held at one of the larger places in north Louisiana.
That is unless you are familiar with what takes place at Saline High School every year. Continuing a long tradition that was first started by iconic head coach William Britt and continued by current head coach Klint Robinson, the Saline Tournament once again was the sight of several of the top girls and boys teams in north Louisiana.
Ruston and Lakeview proved why they are ranked in the top six of Division 1 and IV on the boys side as did the Winnfield, the 3rd ranked team in Division III on the boys side but the team of the tourney was the Quitman girls. The Lady Wolverines beat not one, but two teams ranked in the top 20 in higher classifications in Class 2A Winnfield and defending “non-select” Division IV state semifinalist Ouachita Christian.
Saline head coach Klint Robinson was very appreciative of the schools that participated.
“I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the support that was given to us by so many great programs and their coaches,” said Robinson. “It was really fun to have all these quality teams at our place and the fans got to see some of the best basketball you can find in north Louisiana.”
Quitman 49 Winnfield 46 (Girls) A furious second half rally fueled by pristine foul shooting down the stretch erased an eight-point deficit as Quitman shot their way past Winnfield in the scintillating opener of the Saline Tournament played on Thursday afternoon. The impressive victory over the opponent from two divisions higher improved the Lady Wolverines record to 6-2, while Winnfield fell to 1-1 on the year.
Down 29-21 midway through the third quarter the Lady Wolverines went on an 11-3 run to knot the score at 32 heading into the final frame and then outscored Winnfield 17-14 in the fourth with all but four of the points coming from Bethany Leach and Brayli Stewart.
Even more impressive was how the tallies came. With the crowd roaring at a fever pitch, fourteen times combined, Leach and Stewart stepped to the free throw line. Eleven times the pair connected. Five of the charity shots re-established the lead for Quitman after Winnfield had tied the score. The final six freebies with time winding down kept the Lady Tigers at bay.
Leach, who led Quitman in scoring with 14 after returning to the lineup from an ankle injury, did most of the damage by sinking 8 of 10 free throws in the critical frame. Stewart, who canned a pair of three pointers in the contest and chipped in with 11 points on the night, calmly sank three of four freebies down the stretch.
AJ Gray played a pivotal role as well with 8 points and 8 rebounds, including four points that helped fuel the third quarter rally and four critical rebounds in the fourth period. The great “8 and 8” are both new season highs and marks the second straight game the recent sparkplug has established new scoring and rebounding bests. Cali Deal chipped in with 6 points and 7 boards, despite being hampered by foul trouble and Anna Leach added five, including a first quarter trey. Emma Carter scored four and Summer Grillette made a free throw to round out the scoring. As a team, Quitman made a season best 18 of 24 free throws (75%) compared to Winnfield making 12 of 23 charity shots.
Quitman (6-2) 12 9 11 17 – 49
Winnfield (1-1) 14 10 8 14 – 46
QHS Scoring: B. Leach 14, Stewart 11, Gray 8, Deal 6, A. Leach 5, Carter 4, Grillette 1
Winnfield 80 Quitman 36 (boys) Winnfield scored only 9 points in the fourth quarter but by then it didn’t matter as the game had been long decided as the aggressive Tiger defense forced almost as many turnovers (31) as the amount points (36) they allowed. The worst loss to date this season at the hands of the higher classified opponent dropped Quitman to 4-4 on the year, while Winnfield claims a season opening victory.
It was over early as Winnfield raced to a 21-10 first quarter lead that was expanded to 48-26 at the half and 71-34 by the end of three. Blake Carter scored nine points and grabbed ten rebounds to lead Quitman while Logan Ponder scored five and both Nicholas Kleibert and Grant Williams added four each. Noah Leach scored three and Riley Duck chipped in with 6 boards and 3 steals.
Quitman (4-4) 10 16 8 2 – 36
Winnfield (1-0) 21 27 23 9 – 80
QHS Scoring: Carter 9, Ponder 5, Williams 4, Kliebert 4, Leach 3
Haughton 66 Saline 48 (boys): No one can accuse Saline head coach Klint Robinson of padding the tournament schedule as the nightcap of the opening round of the Saline Tourney pitted his one win, Division V (Class C) Bobcats, against the 13th rated team in Division 1 (Class 5A). As expected, the host didn’t have the most as Saline fell to Haughton 66 – 48. The Bobcats hung tough in the first quarter thanks to five points each by Will Dyson and Kenton Lee Crawford to offset the four three pointers made by Haughton but the bigger Buccaneers took control by doubling up Saline 20-10 in both the second and third quarters. Dyson led Saline with 19, Shawn Staggs scored 10 and Crawford added 9. Jacob Jones chipped in with six, and both D.J. Rager-Ridley and Gavon Dailey tallied two. McClinden scored 17 to top four players that reached double figures in points for Haughton, who won their first of the season after opening with a pair of losses.
Saline (1-6) 10 10 10 18 – 48
Haughton (1-2) 12 20 20 14 – 66
SHS Scoring: Dyson 19, Staggs 10, Crawford 9, Jones 6 Rager-Ridley 2 Dailey 2
HHS Scoring: McClinden 17, Ross 12, Delaney 12, Antoine 10, Antoine 6, Carey 4, Turner 3, Howell 2, Youngblood 2
Haughton 57 Saline 34 (girls): Alaya Gray hit a pair of three pointers and scored 8 points to help Saline stay even with Haughton in the first quarter but Haughton used a 21-6 second quarter advantage to pull away. The fifth straight loss dropped the Lady Bobcats to 1-6 on the year while Haughton improved to 2-0. Gray ended the night with four trey’s to her credit and 18 points. Kasidy Sims scored five and both Alana Gray and Tyla Malone added three each. X. Lard had two.
Saline (1-7) 10 6 9 9 – 34
Haughton (2-0) 10 21 13 13 – 57
SHS Scoring: Alaya Gray 18, Sims 5, Alana Gray 3, Malone 3, Lard 2
HHS Scoring: Washington 19, Browder 10, Armstrong 8, Marshall 7, Frazier 5, Poydras 4
OCS 58 Saline 43 (Girls): Saline gave defending Division IV state semifinalist Ouachita Christian out of Monroe a run for their money but by winning each quarter by small margins the Lady Eagles managed to win their second straight to open their season. The Lady Bobcats held OCS to just six field goals in the first half but by making 13 of 18 free throws OCS held a 27-18 lead at the break before methodically pulling away in the second half. Alana Gray scored a season high 22 points to lead Saline followed by twin sister Alaya and X Lard with seven. Tyla Maline and Kassie Hood added three each.
Saline (1-7) 10 8 11 14 – 43
OCS (2-0) 12 15 15 16 – 58
Ruston 38 Lakeview 31 (boys) Two of north Louisiana’s top defensive teams slugged it out with Class 5A Ruston slipping past Class 2A Lakeview. The win was the third straight to open the year for the Bearcats, coached by Weston native, Ryan Bond. Lakeview fell to 1-1 on the year despite allowing only an average of 31.5 points per game.
Ruston 51 Haughton 44 (girls) The 2nd ranked Ruston girls made it three straight with the victory over previously undefeated Haughton, who now sits at 2-1 on the year. The Lady Buccaneers were making a second trip in two days to Saline having played the tourney host night before.
Quitman 49 Ouachita Christian 44 (Girls) Down 44-42 with time winding down in the opener of four games played Saturday, Quitman went on a 7-0 run to blow past the defending “non-select” Division IV state semifinalist. With their second straight victory over teams from higher classifications, the Lady Wolverines ran their record to 7-2 while OCS fell to 2-1, suffering only their 8th loss in the last 96 games played over three plus years.
After the lead see-sawed back and forth in the early stages of the final frame as it had done all game, Brayli Stewart found Bethany Leach for a three pointer to put Quitman up 45-44. Leach then made the back end of two free throws after OCS missed two charity shots. Desperately, OCS tried to get back in the game by fouling only to see Summer Grillette make her only two points of the game with two clutch free throws to put Quitman up 48-44. After another foul, Cali Deal, who led Quitman with 20 points on the night on the strength of making 10 of 13 free throws, made the front end of a pair to close out the game. Brayli Stewart and Leach also finished in double figures with 12 and 10. Anna Leach added three and AJ Gray scored two.
QHS (7-2) 11 11 10 17 – 49
OCS (2-1) 10 9 15 10 – 44
QHS Scoring: Deal 20, Stewart 12, B. Leach 10, A. Leach 3, Grillette 2, Gray 2
Quitman 47 Saline 43 (boys): Quitman made only one field goal in the fourth quarter and three the entire second half but by making 13 of 20 free throws kept scrappy Saline at bay in the finale of the three day tourney. The victory improved the Wolverines to 5-3 on the year while Saline fell to 1-8 after a fourth straight loss. It was Saline that made only one basket in the first quarter as Quitman stormed to a 14-6 lead which proved to be to much of a hill for the Bobcats to climb despite outscoring the Wolverines in each of the last three quarters. Brayden Smith came up big for the Wolverines, especially down the stretch where he made five of six clutch free throws in the final period, to give him a team high 13 in the contest. He was assisted by Eli Walker who made three trey’s in the first half en route to 11 points on the night. Blake Carter ended with 10 points and 15 boards for his third “double-double” of the year and both Gavin Caskey and Logan Ponder chipped in with six each. Kenton Lee Crawford scored 13 to lead Saline, who also got a season high 9 points by Gavin Dailey and 8 from D.J. Rager-Ridley. Will Dyson, Shawn Staggs and Maddox Williams added four each.
Quitman (5-3) 14 12 10 11 – 47
Saline (1-8) 6 13 12 12 – 43
QHS Scoring: Smith 13, Walker 11, Carter 10, Caskey 6, Ponder 6, Williams 1
SHS Scoring: Crawford 13, Dailey 9, Rager-Ridley 8, Dyson 4, Staggs 4, Williams 4, Ledbetter 1
Ruston 71 Winnfield 52 (boys): Ruston High, ranked 6th in Division I, made easy work of the 3rd ranked team in Division III, by scoring a season high to run their record to 4-0 in the second game played on Saturday. Winnfield fell to 1-1 on the year.
Lakeview 76 Haughton 62 (boys): It was just the opposite in the third game as the smaller school blew past the bigger one as Lakeview rebounded from their loss to Ruston by taking down the Class 5A Buccaneers. Lakeview, who opened their season at the Saline Tourney improved to 2-1 on the year while Haughton fell to 1-3.
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