Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 1998

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

EDGARD – West St. John showed it could win a game at any speed, holdingoff a late Newman rally for a 50-43 victory in the bi-district playoffs Friday night.

West St. John, 16-7, played at McCall last night in the regional playoffs. Itwill be the second trip to the regionals for the Rams since coach Antoine Edwards took over in 1979. Newman, the third-place team in District 10-2A, finished its season at 15-15.

Newman played a slow-down game in order to stay with the usual fast- breaking Rams. The Greenies closed to within 40-37 with 4:51 left asKevin Kushner found Eli Manning cutting along the right baseline. Manningwas fouled on the play and made the free throw to complete the three- point play.

West St. John rebounded with two free throws by Pendarvis Morris.Following a free throw by Mike Walker, Elijah Jasmine grabbed a steal, drove in and passed to Adair Alexander underneath to build the lead back to 44-38 with two minutes left.

After Newman cut the deficit back to four on a pass from Kushner to Manning, Alexander hit two free throws and Carl Gauthier one to give the Rams a 47-41 lead with 45 seconds left. Manning scored again on a passfrom Matt Mann, but Jasmine hit three of four free throws in the final 18 seconds to preserve the victory.

“I thought we made a couple of key rebounds (down the stretch),” Edwards said. “We knew all along they were not going to quit. Everybody is lookingto play up and go to the big dance. We can’t take anybody for granted.”West St. John scored on last minute layups by Marlon Jackson and Jasmineto take a 28-21 lead into halftime. Newman slowed down the Rams at thestart of the second half, holding the Rams scoreless for the first 3:37 of the third quarter.

Newman took advantage of the Rams’ scoreless spell as Joe Henican found Manning cutting underneath to give the Greenies a 29-28 advantage with 5:09 left in the third quarter. After a free throw by Mann, Alexander tiedthe score with a jump shot from the left side. Newman bounced back,taking its final lead on a pass from Kushner to Mann inside.

Donreil Louis, the area’s third leading scorer in Class 2A, then took over, burying a free throw and two jump shots to give the Rams a 37-32 lead at the end of the third quarter. Joseph Gross built the lead to six on a jumperin the lane on the Rams’ first possession of the fourth quarter. Henicanresponded by finding Manning cutting underneath, but Jackson came back with a free throw to give the Rams a 40-34 lead with 5:11 remaining in the contest.

Newman jumped out to an 8-5 lead at the start of the game, but West St.

John rallied with a 3-pointer by Jasmine and a jump shot by Jamar Bailey to take a two-point advantage at the end of the first quarter.

West St. John then held the Greenies scoreless over the first 2:34 of thesecond quarter in taking a 19-8 lead. Brian Lumar got the run started witha jump shot and Louis and Gauthier followed with jumpers from the left side. Lumar followed with a pass to Louis driving the left baseline. Louiswas fouled on the play, hitting the free throw to give the Rams an 11- point lead with 5:52 remaining in the half.

Newman rallied with two free throws by Manning and a layup by Walker to cut the deficit to 19-12. West St. John responded as Gauthier buried a 3-pointer from the left side and Louis scored on a layup to take a 24-14 lead. Newman bounced back, using a three-point play by Manning and alayup by Henican to pull to within 24-21.

Louis led the Rams with 14 points. Jasmine added nine points, whileAlexander and Gauthier chipped in with six points apiece.

Manning led all scorers with 18 points. Mann tossed in nine points, whileWalker added six points for the Greenies.

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