Lady Cats finding success begins at home

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 29, 1999

RESERVE – For Troy Giordano and his East St. John Lady Cats basketballteam, there truly is no place like home.

Giordano has never lost in the East St. John gym, dating back to his days ascoach of the freshman boys’ team. The Lady Cats have won at least 33straight at home dating back to the 1995 season, a streak that includes the program’s three playoff wins the last three seasons.

“We stress home wins,” Giordano, who is 84-21 in three-plus seasons with the Lady Cats and 104-24 overall at East St. John, said. “To windistrict titles, you have to be able to win home games. If you win all yourhome games, the most your opponent can do is split with you. At any level,you gave to win at home because in basketball, it’s so hard to win on the road. You’ve got to win home games to have a chance to win titles.”Giordano said the atmosphere in the gym has a lot to do with the winning streak, especially late in the season.

“We try to create a good home atmosphere,” Giordano said. “We have theband come in here for district games. We have large, loud crowds,especially down the stretch. No many girls’ basketball teams draw as wellas we do at home. We put some people in here.”Another factor is the comfort level the team has playing at home.

“The players have confidence they will win here,” Giordano said. “Theyexpect to win here. Once you’ve got that mentality, it helps.”And finally, Giordano credited assistant coach Bob Payne, who has been with him throughout the streak.

That streak will be put on the line in the next two weeks. East St. Johnopens its home schedule Tuesday against Grace King at 6 p.m. Then comes a matchup with perennial title contender Mount Carmel Dec. 7.The Lady Cats ended the Cubs’ three-year home winning streak two years ago and Giordano said he knows they will be out to turn the tables. Twodays later, the Lady Cats host another title contender in St. Amant.”It’s going to be a big challenge,” Giordano said.

Those are the only home games before East St. John opens District 7-5Aplay at South Lafourche Dec. 28. The Lady Cats have won three straightdistrict championships but Giordano said it will be a battle this time around. He figures Destrehan to be the favorite with his team, Hahnvilleand Central Lafourche in the running.

“I expect a four-team race for the district title,” Giordano said. “Any ofthe four can win it. Three of the four will go to the playoffs. We’ve gotsome talent in this district. It’s going to be a good year for basketball inthe River Parishes.”To prepare for the district battles, Giordano has scheduled a tough pre- district slate. East St. John opened the season with a win at Belle Chassebefore playing Amite and Loranger in the Hammond Tournament.

The Lady Cats are coming off an appearance at the Battle on the Bayou in the Alario Center where they lost to eventual tournament champion O.P.Walker in the semifinals after defeating Chalmette, John Curtis and St.


East St. John also has a game scheduled at Domin-ican Dec. 17.”I want to play the best teams around to see where we are at,” Giordano, whose team currently stands 6-3, said. “The only way to get ready fordistrict is to play a hard schedule. I believe it’s good to schedule hard tosee where you are at and where you need to be.”Giordano will be playing that schedule with his most experienced team since he has been at East St. John. His top 11 players are all either seniorsor juniors.

“We have a lot of experience,” Giordano said. “These kids have played over200 games counting summers.”Senior Kavonna Reese returns at center after averaging 12.4 points and12.5 rebounds a game last season. Senior guard Ginina Louis averaged 12.2points a game last year and also excelled defensively, averaging 5.4 stealsper contest.

Junior forward Kinya Lennix led the team in scoring with 19.3 points pergame. They will be joined by junior point guard Danielle Stemley andjunior power forward Velinda Ard.

Coming off the bench are seniors Pam Winston, Yoshiko Taylor and Tenesha Williams and juniors Ashley Wolfe, Reyong Jasper and Koy Magee as well as Lakresha Walker.

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