ESJ continues drive in playoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2001


RESERVE – Whenever Courtney Drayton steps up to the free throw line, she pretends like she is shooting those free throws to win the championship game. Because Drayton made four key free throws in the final 45 seconds Monday night, East St. John is a step closer to playing in such a game. The Lady Cats advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals for the first time in school history with a 53-48 victory in the East St. John gym. East St. John will travel to East Ascension, which defeated Bonnabel, 49-43, in the next round. East St. John also set a school record for wins, improving to 31-3 on the season while keeping the team’s 59-game home win streak alive. Warren Easton finished its season at 23-5. Kinya Lennix led all scorers with 13 points for the Lady Cats. Kojavona Hamilton added 11 points and Drayton eight. Easton was led by Chantell Dunn with 12 points. Arielle Bodden tossed in another 10. East St. John took a 39-34 lead into the fourth quarter and a drive by Lennix made it 41-35. Easton cut the deficit to 41-39 on free throws by Dunn, Ronalda Toliver and Bodden. But Drayton came back with a layup off a pass by Lennix. Lennix then grabbed a rebound and was fouled, hitting the front end of a one-and-one. Velinda Ard grabbed the rebound and was fouled, also hitting one of two free throws to make it 45-39 with 2:52 left. Easton again trimmed the lead to two on a layup by Sherill Hadrick and two free throws by Tracie Johnson. The Lady Cats again answered as Danielle Stemley chased down an inbounds pass from Drayton and found Hamilton underneath. . After a drive by Dunn cut the lead to two, Drayton drew an offensive foul from Hadrick and made both free throws with 44 seconds left. Bodden then buried a 3-pointer from the left wing after a save by Dunn. Stemley was fouled on the next possession and made the first of two free throws. Lennix kept the possession alive by grabbing a rebound on the second shot. After a Lady Cat timeout, Erin Keller was fouled near midcourt and made the second of two free throws to make it 51-48 with 13.4 seconds left. Following an Easton timeout, Toliver missed on a jumper inside the 3-point line with Drayton grabbing the rebound. Drayton was fouled and went to the line to shoot two. “Make them,” Drayton said of what was going through her mind at the line. “I’ve got to make these. I pretend I’m in a championship game and I have to make them. It’s all on me.” Drayton delivered, hitting both shots and giving the Lady Cats a 53-48 with 3.1 seconds left. “I was starting to believe there was some jinx,” East St. John coach Troy Giordano, whose teams had lost four straight regional games, said of the fourth quarter. “But we came through when we had to. The girls made some big baskets down the stretch and made some big defensive plays.” East St. John trailed 24-22 at halftime . A 3-pointer by Johnson gave Easton a 28-24 lead early in the third quarter. East St. John came back to take the lead at 29-28 on a jumper by Lennix with 5:45 left. The teams continued to trade baskets until East St. John took the lead for good at 33-32 on a drive by Drayton. After a pass from Keller to Whitnee Chatman made it a three-point game, Hamilton drove the length of the court in the final 6.2 seconds to make it 39-34 at the end of the quarter. A layup by Lennix gave the Lady Cats an early 4-0 lead. Easton came back to take an 8-6 lead on a drive by Toliver, then went up 11-8 on Bodden’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. East St. John tied the game at 13 on a 3-pointer by Stemley. The lead then seesawed with Keller giving the Lady Cats a 22-21 lead with 2:41 left with a drive along the baseline. Easton came back with a free throw by Toliver and a drive by Brittany Battiste to take a 24-22 halftime lead.

Quitman 69, Reserve Christian 25

RESERVE – Quitman used a 14-0 first quarter run to pull away from Reserve Christian, 69-25, in the Class B Regionals Monday night. Quitman (35-4) advanced to play Negreet, a 54-52 winner over Midland Monday, in the quarterfinals. Reserve Christian finished its season at 16-12. Quitman jumped out to a 16-2 first quarter lead and led 38-9 at the half. Courtney Delaney scored a game-high 35 points for Quitman. Trenell Smith led Reserve Christian with 13 points. Reserve Christian was coming off its first ever playoff win, 58-53, at Starkey Friday night. Trenese Smith led the Lady Eagles with 25 points.