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ALL RIVER PARISHES 1997-98 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM

L’Observateur / March 21, 1998

A pair of East St. John Lady Cats headline L’Observateur’s 1997-98 All-River Parishes Girls Basketball team.

Senior guard Tamika Williams is the River Parishes’ Most Valuable Player after leading the Lady Cats’ in almost every offensive category. Williams’coach, Troy Giordano, is the Coach of the Year, after leading the Lady Cats to a 29-3 record and a spot in the state playoffs for the second straight year.

Tamika Williams Most Valuable Player East St. JohnSenior Guard

A year ago, the trio of Keeshawn Carter, Veyond Williams and Tamika Williams helped lead East St. John to its first outright district title andplayoff victory. With the graduation of the first two, the pressure ofrepeating last year’s success fell squarely on the shoulders of Tamika Williams.

Williams responded to that pressure and then some, leading the Lady Cats to a school record 29 wins and a spot in the regional playoffs. She was ather best in the clutch as evidenced when East St. John hosted Thibodauxlate in the season. The Lady Cats led by two late in the game whenWilliams went to the line to shoot a one-and-one. Williams made bothshots and added two more to help clinch a game the Lady Cats needed to clinch the district title.

“If I am going to roll the dice at the end, I am going to gamble on Tamika Williams,” East St. John coach Troy Giordano said at the time.Williams led the team and was seventh in the metro area in Class 5A with a 16.9 points per game average. She excelled on defense as well, beingselected as the most valuable defensive player in district.

The versatile senior played three different positions for the Lady Cats during the season – point, two and three guard. Williams led off the courtas well as on and was the team’s captain this past season. She will takeher game to the next level next season, having signed a scholarship with Southeastern Louisiana University during the Fall.

“She was a once in a lifetime type of player,” Giordano said.

Troy Giordano East St. JohnCoach of the Year

Before the season started, Giordano joked about what his Lady Cats would have to do to top the 1996-97 season. All the Lady Cats did in 1997-98was clinch their second straight District 6-5A title with a 14-0 record, win a school-record 29 games and roll off a 28-game winning streak, the longest in school history. Included in those 29 victories were titles in theLady Rebel Classic and the Belaire Christmas tournament.

And although the Lady Cats’ season came to an end at John Ehret in the state regionals, there was no disputing that this was a once in a lifetime season.

Giordano guided the Lady Cats through a 1-2 start and a season that saw a number of injuries that threatened to cripple the team. He weathered thegraduation of Keeshawn Carter and Veyond Williams and the loss of two players before the season started. Giordano kept a young team consistingof two seniors, five sophomores and three freshmen focused throughout the year and led them to a season beyond anybody’s imagination.

Karen Bass Hahnville Senior Guard

Bass was one of the best shooters in the River Parishes from the outside and was especially proficient from behind the 3-point stripe. She wasrecently selected to the All-District 6-5A third team.

April Benn Lutcher Senior Guard

Benn was the floor leader for a Lady Bulldogs squad that advanced to the quarterfinals for the third time in school history. Fluid in her job, Lutchercoach Janie Ryland said Benn took more of a point guard role this year, averaging 4.8 assists a contest.”She gave us the ability to get the ball up the court easily,” Ryland said.

Benn could also shoot the rock, finishing six in the metro area in Class 3A with 12 points per game.

Kammi Darensbourg Destrehan Junior Forward

Darensbourg was one of the most dangerous scorers in the River Parishes.

The District 6-5A most valuable player was the second-leading scorer in the metro area in Class 5A, averaging 23.1 points per contest. Darensbourgconsistently put up double figures in both points and rebounds, leading the team in the latter as well with 12 per game. A three-year starter,Darensbourg served as the team’s captain this season.

Imani Davis Destrehan Sophomore Guard

In her first year of high school ball, Davis was selected to the All- District 6-5A second team. She was the player the Lady Cats’ looked to goto after Darensbourg. Davis was second on the team with 15 points pergame and led the squad with five steals a contest. She also was the teamleader in 3-point shooting (35 percent) and free throw percentage (88 percent).

Jessica Dufrene Reserve Christian Senior Guard

Dufrene, who is believed to be the all-time leading scorer in school history, closed out a stellar career in 1997-98. She was selected to theLouisiana Christian Schools Athletic Association all-state first team for the third consecutive year after being named second team her freshman season. This past season, Dufrene help guide the Lady Eagles to a third-place finish in the state tournament, the third-straight season the team has finished in the top three. Dufrene led the team in scoring, scoring indouble figures 18 of the 21 games she played in this season.

Kenya Lennix East St. JohnFreshman Forward

Giordano called Lennix the best freshman he has ever seen. An excellentstudent in the classroom and on the court, Lennix possesses tremendous knowledge of the game, especially for a freshman.

“She is a basketball player through and through,” Giordano said.

Lennix finished third on the team in scoring, averaging 14.2 points a game.For her exploits, she was recently selected to the All-District 6-5A first team.

Melissa Martin Riverside Senior Guard

One of the best all-around athletes in the River Parishes, Martin shone on the court again in 1997-98, making the All-River Parishes team for the fourth-straight year.

Martin passed the 2,000 point mark for her career late in the season. Her20.5 points per game average led the team for the fifth-straight seasonand made her the leading scorer in the metro area in Class 2A for the third-straight year. Martin also contributed 8.2 rebounds, three steals and3.3 assists per game.The team captain, Martin helped lead the team to its third straight appearance in the state playoffs.

Michelle Millet Riverside Junior Forward

A great complement to Martin, Millet took some pressure off her teammate by averaging 12.5 points per game. A dominate force inside,Millet grabbed 7.6 rebound per game in 1997-98. She also grabbed 1.7steals and dished out 2.3 assists per contest. Millet is making her third-straight appearance on the All-River Parishes squad.

Catherine Moore St. JamesSenior Forward

Moore, a second-team All-District 10-3A selection, is making her second straight appearance on the All-River Parishes team. The Lady Wildcats’team captain, could score inside and outside. A great outside shooter,Moore averaged 13.6 points per game while going inside to grab sixrebounds a contest. Moore showed great leadership ability on the court aswell as off and was the player the Lady Wildcats went to when they were in a bind.

Kristin Oberschmidt St. Charles CatholicSenior Forward

Oberschmidt was the Lady Comets go-to player this past season. Thefirst-team All-District 9-2A selection played a leadership role this season and her teammates rallied around her work ethic. Oberschmidt ledthe team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per contest. She was alsostrong on the boards, grabbing a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.Oberschmidt also contributed 1.4 assists a game.

Kevona Reese East St. JohnSophomore Center

Reese was the Lady Cats’ force inside. The second-team All-District 6-5Aselection dominated the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds a game. She tookover in district play, averaging 15 rebounds per each of the 14 games.

When she was not pounding the boards on defense, she was forcing her opponent to change her shot.

“She has come a long way in two years,” Giordano said.

Altreca Stark Lutcher Senior Forward

Stark gave the Lady Bulldogs a force inside. The two-time All-RiverParishes selection, Stark rebounded well for the Lady Bulldogs and was the fourth-leading scorer in the area in Class 3A with 14.1 points pergame. She saved her best for Lutcher’s most memorable victory of 1997-98, helping lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 75-68 overtime win over then-No.

1 and undefeated Donaldsonville with a game-high 27 points.

The All-District 10-3A selection shot 53 percent from the field while grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game.

Crystal Stipe West St. JohnJunior Forward

Stipe, a starter since the eighth grade, was recently named to the All- District 9-2A squad. The Lady Rams’ leading scorer, Stipe averaged 11.9points in district play and 12.2 overall. A real aggressive hardworker, sheserved as the team’s captain for the third-straight season.

Photo: EAST ST. JOHN COACH TROY GIORDANO AND SENIOR GUARD TAMIKAWILLIAMS

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