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Posted On: 12/29/17 1:51 PM
St. Augustine advanced to the Purple Knight Classic championship game with a 54-48 win over Bonnabel Thursday at St. Aug. The Purple Knights outscored the Bruins 16-4 in the second quarter to flip a seven-point deficit after the first quarter into a 26-21 lead at halftime.
Most of the third quarter was tight until Brandon Bode drilled a 3-pointer giving St. Aug a 40-31 lead going into the fourth, and they led for double-digits for the majority of the last quarter.
St. Augustine faces Sophie B. Wright Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the championship game, and click here to check out how the other semifinal matchup between the Warriors and McDonogh 35 played out.
St. Aug coach Mitchell Johnson gets the most out of his team
The Purple Knights traditionally have one of the top players in the metro area with players like Caleb Daniels (Tulane), Bryce Washington (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Craig Victor (LSU) coming through ranks as of late.
This year’s group doesn’t have that kind of top-end talent but Mitchell uses the skillset of each player to make the Purple Knights a tough group to deal with.
Offensively, 2018 PG Bryson Celestine runs the show with his speed, quickness and ball handling, and 2018 G Brandon Bode is a knock-down shooter. 2018 Ze Muse is a strong-bodied guard who’s quicker than you might expect and can finish with both hands in the lane. 2019 Devon Jefferson and 2018 T.J. Trufant are also rounding in to form as an athletic pair that can knock down shots or get to the rim.
Defense and rebounding are really this team’s calling-card, though, and 2019 G Dante Smith and 2019 F Jalvin Mitchell set the tone for the Purple Knights on that end of the floor. Smith’s hustle and energy combined with Mitchell’s length and St. Augustine’s attention to detail on that end of the floor as a unit.
Bonnabel duo T.J. Collins/Rodney Munson capable of big nights
2018 PG T.J. Collins and 2019 PG Rodney Munson didn’t have their best game as a tandem Thursday against St. Aug but it’s clear these two have the potential to put up big numbers on the offensive end together.
Munson had a strong game against the Purple Knights putting up 21 points with 3 3-pointers in the first quarter but St. Aug made sure he didn’t get any good looks from deep for the rest of the game. The 6-foot guard was scoreless in the second quarter but had three in the third and nine in the fourth going 7-of-8 from the line, 8-of-9 overall in the matchup.
Collins finished with 16 points and while he’s fully capable of getting hot from long range, he probably settled for a few too many from outside the arc. He’s a talented 6-foot-2 guard that can get by defenders in one-on-one situations but St. Aug’s zone defense made it difficult for Collins to get in a consistent rhythm. That said, a couple of his 3-point misses were on-line and if a couple had found the bottom of the net, it would have been a different game.
Bonnabel rebounding stands out
A trio of Bruins really went to work on the boards for Bonnabel. 2021 forward Will Allen had five in the opening quarter that helped his team take a 17-10 lead into the second quarter and he finished with 10 for the game. 2020 G Jonathan Brock also had a strong outing on the glass pulling down eight rebounds and Collins added seven more.
The Bruins, however, couldn’t quite capitalize on enough of those extra opportunities to get the win but consistent effort on the glass is one reason Bonnabel was No. 2 in the latest LHSAA Class 5A power rankings, and rode a 7-game winning streak going into Thursday.