Down to the Wire

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 18, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / January 18, 1999

RESERVE – The East St. John Lady Cats had to go an extra distance toextend their winning streak in district play to 32 games Tuesday night.

The Hahnville Lady Tigers gave the Lady Cats all they could handle on their home floor, rallying in the final minute of regulation to send the game into overtime. East St. John was able to step up to the challenge, however,holding onto a 73-70 victory in the Wildcat gym.

East St. John extended two streaks with the win. The Lady Cats have notlost in district play since falling at Central Lafourche during the 1996-97 season and have not been beaten at home in Troy Giordano’s three-plus years as head coach.

East St. John improved to 5-0 in District 6-5A play and 16-6 overall.Hahnville, which came into the game tied with the Lady Cats on top of the district standings, fell to 4-1 in district and 16-8 overall.

Hahnville tied the game at 68 with 7.7 seconds left in regulation on a freethrow by Toyelle Rickson. The Lady Tigers then opened the scoring in theovertime period on a put back by Rickson. East St. John tied the game at 70on free throws by Kovana Reese and Ginina Louis and went ahead on a put back by Reese with 2:05 left.

Both teams then went scoreless until Danielle Stemley hit the first of two free throws with 55 seconds remaining. Hahnville brought the balldown court but Louis came up with a steal and was tied up with possession going to the Lady Cats.

After a traveling call on the Lady Cats, Reese was tied up while grabbing a rebound with possession going to Hahnville. On the inbounds pass with 8.7left, however, Kinya Lennix picked up a loose ball and was held with the Lady Cats retaining possession. Lennix then held on to the ensuinginbounds pass as time expired.

“We wanted to give everything we had in overtime,” Lennix said. “Wedidn’t want to give up.”Giordano said he was confident his team could pull it out in the overtime period with the Lady Cats having already gone an extra period against Fontainebleau earlier this season.

“I am proud of my team,” Giordano said. “This is one of my proudestmoments of these girls. They all came together and refused to lose to keepthe streak alive.”Hahnville coach Earl Oestriecher said it was a confidence boost for the team to go into East St. John’s home gym and take it into overtime butthat confidence boosts are not recorded into the district standings. But hewas proud of his team’s efforts.

“Both teams refused to quit,” Oestriecher said. “It was an exciting gamefor the fans and a fun game to coach. Unfortunately, we just did not winthe game.”The game was tied at 47 heading into the final eight minutes. Hahnvillejumped out to a 54-49 lead on 3-pointers from the left side by Karen Bass and Keanna Bethencourt.

Louis grabbed a steal and passed to Lennix to cut the deficit to three and a put back by Stemley and a free throw by Lennix tied the score at 60 with 2:54 left.

Hahnville regained the lead on a layup by Rickson after a deep pass by Bass before Reese tied the score again with two free throws. Louis then deflected asteal to Lennix and got the ball back to put the Lady Cats ahead. Anothersteal and layup by Louis gave the Lady Cats a 66-62 lead.

A 3-pointer by Bass from the right side brought the Lady Tigers to within one before Lennix answered with a jumper from the right baseline.

Stephanie Stipe hit one of two free throws with 48.3 seconds left to makeit 68-67. Stipe then stole a pass at midcourt and passed to Bethencourtwho took it in. But Reese was there to block the layup attempt and theLady Tigers were called for three seconds in the lane.

The Lady Tigers got the ball right back as Bass stole a pass and got the ball to Rickson. Rickson missed the shot, went for the rebound and wasfouled by Reese. She then tied the game by making the second of two freethrows.

Reese threw the ball deep for Tenisha Williams off the inbounds with Williams being stripped of the ball while going in for the layup.

Louis then put up a 3-pointer from the right corner that bounced off the rim, grabbed the rebound and put up a short jumper that hit the side of the backboard as time expired.

Hahnville had taken a 27-26 leads at halftime. A jump shot by Reese and adrive by Stemley put the Lady Cats ahead before a 3-pointer by Rickson gave the Lady Tigers a 31-30 lead.

East St. John then went on a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to takeits biggest lead of the night. Courtney Drayton scored twice to open therun and Louis, Reese and Stemley added baskets to give the Lady Cats a 40-31 lead with 3:36 left in the third quarter.

Three-pointers by Bass and Stipe brought Hahnville to within 42-39. AfterLennix hit a jumper in the lane, Bethencourt buried a 3-pointer from the left corner and took a pass inside from Rickson to tie the game at 44.

Williams regained the lead for the Lady Cats with a 3-pointer but Bass answered with one of her own, the Lady Tigers’ fifth of the quarter, to tie the game at 77.

Reese had a game-high 21 points for East St. John. Lennix added 18 pointswhile Stemley, Louis and Drayton all chipped in with 10 points.

Rickson led the Lady Tigers with 19 points. Bethencourt tossed in 18points while Bass and Stipe tossed in 12 points apiece. Bass had four 3-pointers and Bethencourt three as the Lady Tigers finished with 10 3- pointers.

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