The No. 10 (12-4) West Monroe boys basketball team turned into the runnin’ Rebels in the second half of a Top 10 clash that saw West Monroe upset No. 2 (16-3) Alexandria Senior High, 53-40, Tuesday night at home.

The Rebels were staring at a 26-19 deficit early into the third quarter when West Monroe senior guard Dakota Gasca heated up from deep. Gasca began a 28-6 run with a corner 3-pointer before ultimately hitting two more from behind the arc in the eight-minute period.

“We just went in tonight and told them at halftime that their energy is not where it’s supposed to be, and they were already talking about it before we came in. That shows our growth as a team because they’re starting to figure it out,” West Monroe head coach Kyle Hill said.

Everything fell into place for the Rebels during the run. Gasca hit a heat check 3-pointer from deep before draining an off-balanced 3-pointer in the corner, Paul Manning continuously put the ball on the floor and attacked the Trojans with great success and the Rebels' press generated several fast-break points that saw a highly competitive game turn lopsided.

“Coach (Raschard) Boatner is the one who suggested (the press),” Hill said. “I thought that upped our energy level in the second half. We started flying around a little bit more.”

Those in attendance roared when Jadais Richard picked off a pass and delivered a thunderous slam on the other end. It wasn’t the first time Richard picked off the Trojans during his senior year.

Gasca led all with 17 points, while Manning and Shun Glass each provided 13 points in the victory.

Gasca scored his 1,000th career point in the victory and is averaging 20 points per game this season. 

Manning was more assertive in the win than he's been in the past, and that's a good thing if you're a Rebel. 

“We’ve tried to convince Paul that he’s a really good basketball player, and that when he decides just to get downhill, he’s strong and he’s athletic, he can get a lot of things to the rim,” Hill said. “He has to consistently be an attacker. If you look at the games we’ve struggled in, Paul was passive. He’s really one of our big pieces. When he’s attacking, we’re better.”

The first quarter was far from a memorable one, as the Trojans and Rebels totaled 10 points six minutes into the period.

Easily the highlight of the first quarter for the Rebels occurred when Glass drained a 3-pointer in the corner. ASH took a 10-9 lead after back-to-back field goals from Theron Johnson.

Johnson scored 10 points in the first half for the Trojans.

His put-back bucket put ASH in front, 20-14, midway through the second quarter. Manning answered with a 5-0 run that included an open trey and fast-break dunk. ASH’s Charles Williams’ open jumper before the half made it a 22-19 lead at the break.  

West Monroe 55, ASH 29 (girls)

West Monroe made a statement in its first district win of the season against West Ouachita, but the Lady Rebels delivered an encore in a 55-29 blowout against No. 30 ASH in its second district encounter.

After a sluggish start that involved multiple turnovers in the opening two minutes, the (15-7, 2-0) West Monroe Lady Rebels ripped off a 13-0 run and never looked back in the season opener for district play.

The game turned ugly after Pashonnay Johnson drained an open 3-pointer to make it a 5-2 Lady Rebel lead. Johnson, along with Shamiya Butler inside, gave the No. 11 Lady Rebels a size advantage in the low post. After Butler’s put-back bucket capped the 13-0 run in the first quarter, West Monroe took a 21-7 lead into the second quarter.

The Lady Rebels outscored ASH, 14-6, in the second quarter, as Johnson and Rakyla Russell each hit double-figure scoring totals in the first 16 minutes of action.

West Monroe made many substitutions in the second half, as the Lady Rebels led by as many as 29 points in the final two quarters.

ASH had just one field goal in the fourth quarter, as five of the Lady Trojans’ seven points in the final period came at the charity stripe.

Johnson led the Lady Rebels with 15 points and Russell added 14 more. Butler finished her night with 13 points.

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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