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St. Thomas More boys continue 'Marsh Madness' experience with Division I select semifinal win

Playoff-tested Cougars defeat Pineville, will face Liberty Magnet for title

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA - Top-seeded St. Thomas More is playing in the Top 28 boys basketball state tournament for the ninth straight year. 

Its opponent in Wednesday afternoon's Division I select semifinals, No. 4 Pineville, was making its first Marsh Madness appearance in decades. 

The seasoned Cougars put their experience to good use at Burton Coliseum, defeating the Rebels by a 58-38 margin to secure a spot in Saturday's final vs. No. 2 Liberty Magnet.

Seniors Michael Mouton and Chad Jones combined for 38 points for STM (29-1). The 6-foot-5 Mouton scored 18 points with 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. The 6-foot-8 Jones also registered a double-double with 20 points, 13 rebounds, four blocked shots, a steal and an assist.

"I think the difference (Wednesday) may have been that Pineville was here for I believe the first time since 1990," STM coach Danny Broussard said. "I felt our experience here might be a factor. It's a different environment."

Mouton's second chance bucket tied the game at 6-all at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter. Just 35 seconds later, Jones hit a jumper off the dribble and the Cougars were on their way to an 11-0 run.

St. Thomas More (in white) goes up against Pineville in the Division I select semifinals March 6, 2024.

St. Thomas More (in white) goes up against Pineville in the Division I select semifinals March 6, 2024.

Jones' 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 15-6. He opened the second quarter with a 3 from near the same spot for an 18-9 lead.

"Chad has had an off year shooting the 3, but he can shoot it," Broussard said. "I knew once the first one went in, that he was going to make another, and he barely missed a third one."

Jones made 8-of-13 field goals (61%) while holding Pineville's top scorer, center Javonte Thomas, to five points on 2-of-11 shooting. Mouton made 5 of his final 6 shots, including two 3-pointers.

"(Thomas) does a heck of a job on the offensive glass, but Chad neutralized him," Broussard said. "Chad has been playing like a man possessed. He averaged around 15 points per game during the regular season. He had 30 against Bonnabel (in the second round)."

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Mouton finished with a flourish after making 3 of his first 12 field goal attempts. The guard was able to post up in the paint, make contested shots with each hand, drive to the rim and distribute the ball to his teammates.

"Michael is a scoring machine," Broussard said. "He can shoot the 3. He can make the mid-range, which most kids in this day and age can't do. He's really worked at his game. He's crafty.

"The most amazing thing is that against these 6-foot-7 guys - I don't know how he does it - but he manages to score under the basket against much taller players."

Anthony Angelle added nine points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Andrew Gardner had six points, two assists and two steals. Elijah Guidry totaled four points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal.

"The past few games, I started off a little tight," Mouton said. "I let the game come to me (Wednesday) and didn't force anything the first two quarters."

STM led 15-9 after one quarter and 31-24 at halftime. The Cougars outscored the Rebels 15-7 in the third and 14-7 in the fourth quarter.

Pineville shot 27% (13-of-48 FG) from the field and made 5-of-18 from beyond the arc. Junior guard Kayden Clark, who was averaging 6 points a game, led the Rebels with 11 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Also for Pineville, senior Jaylen Witty came off the bench to add eight points. Kylan Edwards scored seven.

Edwards, Thomas and Evyn Goree, who were scoring a combined 39 points per game, were held to 14 points. Goree finished with two points, 11 below his average.

"We knew coming into it they were going to be a tough out," Pineville coach Chad Sears said. "We were preaching second chance points and points in the paint. We knew that's how they lived. They can shoot the ball, but throughout the season, they got 65% of their points in the paint.

"Looking at the stats, they held us 10 under the amount of rebounds we normally get. They got about 10-12 more than they normally get, 17 of them were on the offensive glass. That was the story of the game."

STM will meet Liberty Magnet (25-3) in the finals on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Patriots downed No. 6 Southwood, 53-27.

Division I select semifinal 

Liberty Magnet 53, Southwood 27

The second-seeded Patriots outscored Southwood in the fourth quarter, 24-5. Chivas Lee scored 16 points for Liberty on 5-of-9 shooting with four 3-pointers. Howard Gaskins Jr. added 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot, highlighted by a dunk in traffic in the second half.

Malek Robinson had seven points, four assists and three steals. Jaylen Peters posted six points and four rebounds. Marquise McPipe had four points and three rebounds.

Liberty connected on 21-of-41 field goals (51%).

6-foot-10 senior Jeremiah Evans scored 15 points for the Cowboys and accounted for five of his team's eight field goals.

Southwood (26-9) scored 17 points off field goals and 10 from free throws. Trailing 13-12 after one quarter, the Cowboys scored 4, 6 and 5 points in the next three.

Photo of St. Thomas More's Michael Mouton (12) and Chad Jones (14), along with their coach, Danny Broussard

-- Mike Coppage | @SBLiveLA