Williams’ free throw gives ESJ win over Wildcats

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 25, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / January 25, 1999

RESERVE – Roydell Wil-liams’ free throw with 2.9 seconds left lifted EastSt. John to a 43-42 victory over Destrehan in District 6-5A actionTuesday night.

East St. John, predicted to finish in the second half of the districtimproved to 4-1 in district play and 7-10 overall. Destrehan fell to 0-5 indistrict and 5-17 overall.

After East St. John’s Sam Martin tied the game at 42 with a jump shot inthe lane with 19 seconds left, Johnny Richard was fouled at midcourt by Martin and went to the line to shoot an one-and-one. Richard missed thefront end with Clement Carter grabbing the rebound with 7.7 seconds left.After a timeout by East St. John, Floyd Smith inbounded the ball to LouisGardener. Gardener drove downcourt and put up a jumper from the freethrow line that bounced off the rim. Williams and Chuck Richard went forthe rebound along the right baseline with Richard grabbing the ball in the corner but was called for the foul.

After a timeout by Destrehan, Williams’ first free throw attempt spun out.

Destrehan called another timeout before Williams sunk his second shot to give the Wildcats a one-point lead. After another Destrehan timeout, BrettSimon’s inbounds pass was knocked out by East St. John along the leftbaseline. Destrehan tried another inbounds pass but Gardener stepped infront of it at midcourt as time ran out.

Early on, it did not look like the game would go down to the wire as East St. John jumped out to a 9-0 lead. Martin had six of his 10 points duringthe run on three layups. Destrehan was held scoreless until Traun Smithscored on a tip-in with 53 seconds left in the quarter, cutting the deficit to 9-2 at the end of the first quarter.

“We just started slow,” Destrehan coach Mike McNamara said of his team’s early offensive struggles. “We couldn’t get on track and get in theflow of the game.”Destrehan pulled to within 11-6 early in the second quarter on two free throws by Scott Simon and a drive by Lionel Turner. East St. Johnresponded with a 9-2 run over the next 3:10 to take its biggest lead of the night. Two jump shots by Williams made it 15-8. After a free throw byMartin, Williams grabbed a steal at midcourt and took it in. Floyd Smithfollowed with another steal, taking it to the goal to make it 20-8 before Destrehan used a timeout with 2:17 left.

Mark Stewart opened an 8-2 run for Destrehan over the final 1:50 of the half with a jumper. Stewart followed with a layup to make it 20-13. Aftera tip-in by Gardener, Stewart scored on another layup to make it 22-16 at the half.

Chuck Richard tipped in a shot to bring Destrehan to within 24-22 with 4:29 left in the third quarter. After a timeout by East St. John, FloydSmith grabbed a steal, passed downcourt to Gardener who found Carter driving the right baseline for a slam. The Wildcats then took a 28-25 leadon two free throws by Williams.

Destrehan pulled to within one with a drive down the lane. On theWildcats’ next possession, Johnny Richard found Chuck Richard underneath on the inbounds, giving Destrehan its first lead at 29-28 with 40 seconds remaining in the quarter. Traun Smith then stole a pass and was fouledwhile banking in a layup, making the free throw to give Destrehan a 32-28 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Martin buried a 3-pointer from the right arc to cut the deficit to 36-35 with 5:15 left. Floyd Smith then grabbed an errant pass at midcourt andtook it in, regaining the lead for the Wildcats with five minutes remaining.

Destrehan regained the lead with three minutes left as Joel Goynes found Brett Simon underneath. The teams continued to trade the lead as Carterfound Gardener underneath and Chuck Richard banked in a jumper with 1:41 left.

Gardener tied the game at 40 with a free throw with 1:09 left. On East St.John’s next possession, Simon intercepted a pass at the free throw line and found Johnny Richard driving from the left, giving Destrehan a 42-40 lead with 50 seconds left.

Chuck Richard had 12 points of his game-high 13 points in the second half.

Traun Smith added nine points for Destrehan while Stewart tossed in six.

“We were right there with a chance to win,” McNamara said, adding that has been true for all five district games. “We have had a chance to win allfive. The kids are working hard and playing hard. It is not the effort. Weare just having one breakdown. We need to find a way to fix thatbreakdown.”Martin led East St. John with 10 points. Williams came off the bench toscore nine points while Carter and Gardener chipped in with eight points apiece. East St. John coach James Smith said getting Williams and DarwinPittman back from football was been a boost to the team as it entered district play.

“This team has fought a lot of adversity,” Smith said. “Now getting themback, we have gotten a bench and some depth. They haven’t been selfish.They have accepted their roles. This is a good group to be with.”I told the team that we were able to win on a bad night. That shows howmuch better we have gotten. But I can’t take anything away fromDestrehan. They hustled.”East St. John now faces a tough stretch in its season. After playing atSouth Lafourche last night, the Wildcats host Terrebonne and H.L.Bourgeois and travel to Thibodaux in the next two weeks.

“We will see who can take that next step and play with the big guys,” Smith said. “It is a challenge for these guys. I feel we can and they have tobelieve that. We just have to execute.”

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