Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 1998

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / February 4, 1998

RESERVE – The East St. John Lady Cats moved a step closer to clinching asecond consecutive district title with a 63-57 victory over ThibodauxFriday night.

The Lady Cats, 10-0 in District 6-5A and 24-2 overall, also defeatedMount Carmel, 52-40, in the Hall of Fame Classic Sunday at JeffersonPlayground.

The Lady Cats can clinch the district title with a victory at home againstHahnville Friday night.

Ginina Louis led the Lady Cats to their 22nd-straight victory with a game-high 24 points. Kinya Watkins chipped in with 14 points, while TamikaWilliams and Kevona Reese added nine and eight points, respectively.

Lakita Robertson led the Lady Tigers with 20 points. Tracy Reed added 18points, while Cresent Washington contributed 15.

The game was a dogfight throughout with Thibodaux tying the game on twofree throws by Robertson with 3:36 left in the final quarter. On the LadyCats’ ensuing possession, Thibodaux grabbed a rebound, but Reese hustledto tie up the ball with possession reverting back to East St. John. AfterRobertson blocked a shot by Watkins out of bounds, Watkins pulled upalong the left baseline and sank a jump shot with 2:20 left.

The Lady Cats’ defense then took over as Reese deflected a pass fromRobertson to a wide-open Reed out of bounds. The Lady Cats then forced afive-second violation against Thibodaux.East St. John built its lead to four as Williams drove the lane and dumpedoff to Reese for a layup. The Lady Tigers answered as Robertson put back amiss with 43 seconds left. After an over-the-back call against Reese onthe Lady Cats’ next possession, Latoya Moore went to the line to shoot aone-and-one. Moore missed the front end with Reese grabbing the rebound.

The Lady Tigers fouled Williams, Watkins and Louis before finally sendingWilliams to the free throw line with 11.4 seconds left. Williams’ firstfree throw bounced off the front of the rim, off the backboard and into thenet. Her second did the same, giving the Lady Cats a 61-57 lead. Thibodauxput up one more desperation 3-pointer, but Watkins was there to grab therebound, was fouled and made both free throws to put the game away.

“The young kids needed a close game,” East St. John coach Troy Giordanosaid. “We needed a barn burner to show that we could keep our composuredown the stretch.”

Giordano said he wanted the ball in Williams’ hands at the end and shedelivered.

“If I am going to roll the dice at the end, I am going to gamble on TamikaWilliams,” Giordano said. “She hit the big free throws, and we won thegame.”

East St. John tied the game at 33 just before halftime on a 3-pointer byWilliams. The Lady Cats had a chance to take the lead at the break asWilliams intercepted a pass at midcourt with one second left and put up adesperation shot that bounced off the front rim.

Reese came out of the break by grabbing a rebound, tapping the ball toDanielle Stemley, who found Louis ahead of the pack for a layup. The Lady Catscontinued to build on their lead as Louis again broke behind the defense.

Louis then grabbed a steal, getting the ball to Williams, who spilt twodefenders with a pass to Watkins underneath. Williams then scored on alayup and Louis added another put back to give the Lady Cats a 43-35 lead.

Thibodaux then began to come back as Washington banked in a 3-pointerand Moore found Reed inside. Reese’s put back of a Watkins’ miss at thebuzzer gave the Lady Cats a 47-42 lead heading into the final quarter.

Thibodaux closed to within two on a put back by Robertson, but the Louisresponded with a 3-pointer and a jump shot to increase the lead back to52-45. After a jump shot by Washington that cut the deficit to four, theteams traded baskets, until Washington drove in to bring the Tigers towithin 55-53 with 4:32 left.

Louis opened the contest with five unanswered points before the LadyTigers rallied to take a 9-5 lead on a layup by Reed. After a 3-pointer byLouis, Thibodaux built a 15-8 lead behind four points inside by Robertson.East St. John then battled back, cutting the deficit to 19-17 at the end ofthe first quarter on a pass from Williams to Reese inside.

The Lady Cats retook the lead as the second quarter opened on drives byLouis and Williams. The lead continued to bounce back and forth until Louisgave the Lady Cats a 30-26 lead with a jumper from the left corner.

Thibodaux rallied, taking a 33-30 lead as Angie Johnson grabbed a stealand passed downcourt to Letasha Robertson.

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