ESJ clinches third staright district title

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 15, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / Febuary 15, 1999

RESERVE – It has been said over and over that defense wins championships.

And it was another strong defensive effort that led the East St. John LadyCats to their third straight district championship with a 79-38 victory over Central Lafourche Tues-day night.

East St. John (21-9, 12-1) clinched the District 6-5A title with thevictory. The Lady Cats will host a third-place team from the Lafayettearea in the bi-district playoffs next week.

The victory also means the Lady Cats will go undefeated at home during the regular season for the third-straight year. And it came against theteam that had ended its 32-game district winning streak earlier in the season. Central Lafourche defeated the Lady Cats, 55-50, in Mathews lastmonth.

“We were hungry,” East St. John coach Troy Giordano said. “They had beatus there and we were fired up. The band was here and that gave us a boost.The girls never let up. They were determined to win it here and keep ourthree-year undefeated streak alive. I am proud of them. We have had a lotof problems this year and they stuck together. They refused to let it getaway.”Ginina Louis led the attack for the Lady Cats with 25 points, including four 3-pointers. Kinya Lennix added 17 points while Kovana Reese tossedin 16 points, including three late 3-pointers.

Kristal Bourgeois and Crystal Guidry had 11 points apiece for Central Lafourche. Katie Kilgore contributed nine points.Central Lafourche led once in the game, on a put back by Kilgore to open the scoring. East St. John would then hold the Lady Trojans scoreless overthe next five minutes during a 10-0 run. Reese opened the run with a jumpshot and a layup. Lennix followed with a jumper and then took a block inthe distance.

The Lady Cats showed their determination on their next possession as Reese grabbed three rebounds, Lennix and Courtney Drayton two apiece and Louis one. Lennix and Reese had free throws during the possession. AfterCentral Lafourche broke its scoreless spell with a layup by Guidry, Louis buried a 3-pointer from the right corner. Reese then blocked a shot andpassed to Lennix. Lennix bounced ahead to Louis for the layup, giving theLady Cats a 15-4 lead with 1:47 left in the first quarter.

East St. John extended its lead with a 16-0 run to open the second quarter.Yoshiko Taylor scored on a put back and Lennix took a pass from Louis in to make it 27-6 with five minutes left. Reese then grabbed a steal and threwa home run pass to Louis for another layup. The Lady Cats’ press then tookover as Taylor and Louis took steals in, increasing the lead to 35-6.

Central Lafourche got its first points of the quarter on a April Powers layup with 2:55 left. A put back by Taylor and a layup by Lennix made it39-10 at the half.

Two 3-pointers by Louis and a put back by Velinda Ard built the lead to 48-18 midway through the third quarter. Two free throws by Lennix gavethe Lady Cats a 54-20 lead.

The Lady Cats got their outside game working again in the fourth quarter.

Reese hit three from the behind the stripe while Louis and Taylor had one apiece. Bourgeois scored nine of her points in the quarter including a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.

Giordano said the Lady Cats’ ability to hit from the outside was the difference from the last time the two teams met.

“Once they had to come out and play us, they were in trouble,” Giordano said. “It opened up the middle for penetration and for Reese.”

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