End of a Magical Ride

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2001


Ehret ends ESJs trip in finals

PHOTO: EAST ST. JOHN’S KINYA LENNIX puts up a jumper over Ehret’s Mashika Davis and Alberta Auguste (33) in the first quarter Saturday night. (Staff Photo by Michael Kiral) HAMMOND – East St. John’s magical ride came to an end Saturday night in the University Center on the Southeastern Louisiana University campus. For the second time in four years, it was John Ehret which pulled the lever to stop the ride, as the Lady Patriots took a 51-34 victory over the Lady Cats in the Class 5A state championship game. John Ehret, which captured its first state championship in four trips to the Sweet 16, finished at 32-2. The Lady Patriots ended the season on a 28-game winning streak. Ironically, it was Ehret that ended East St. John’s 28-game winning streak in the regionals in 1998. East St. John, which became the first River Parishes school to advance to a final, completed the 2000-01 season at 33-4. Lariana Landry was voted the Class 5A tournament’s MVP after scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds. Blessing Chekwa grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and had 12 points. Mashika Davis also had 12 points. Kinya Lennix led East St. John with 11 points. Whitney Chatman, who came off the bench in the first half, finished with seven points and a game-high seven rebounds. Danielle Stemley and Erin Keller also had seven points. Ehret used a distinct height advantage to out-rebound the Lady Cats, 39-30. But unlike a number of East St. John’s previous opponents, the Lady Patriots had the speed to match the Lady Cats’. “Hat’s off to Ehret,” East St. John head coach Troy Giordano said. “They did an excellent job. Their kids played hard. It was tough to lose like this at the end but they deserved it. They were a better team tonight. Their kids played harder than ours tonight and they deserved to win the game. “We didn’t box out. They are so athletic and we couldn’t get them off the boards. Our strength has been our speed. We are always shorter than everybody else but we overcome height with speed usually. Ehret was taller and just as fast. There then goes our advantage we have on most teams. It presented a matchup problem for us.” East St. John’s problems literally began from the tip-off. Because the players were lined up wrong, when Keller chased down the tip and put up a 3-pointer from the left corner, she thought she was shooting at her own basket but instead was shooting at Ehret’s. It would not be a problem corrected until halftime. Ehret took what appeared to be its first lead on a Landry 3-pointer with 4:06 left. A drive by Lennix brought the Lady Cats to within 8-7 but Ehret then ended the quarter on a 7-0 run. A put back by Chekwa and a jumper by Davis gave the Lady Patriots a 15-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. The lead grew to 10 early in the second quarter on a drive by Davis. Keller cut the deficit to 19-13 with two free throws before Alberta Auguste answered with a drive. Two possessions later, Kojavona Hamilton, the Lady Cats’ second-leading scorer, was bumped inside and went down with a knee injury. She would not return. Chatman came in to replace her and scored on a put back. Lennix followed with a 3-pointer, bring the Lady Cats to within 21-18. But that would be East St. John’s last field goal of the half. A’Ishah Meyers followed with a jumper and Auguste hit a 3-pointer from the left corner. A drive by Chekwa made it 30-19 at the half. With the correction of the error on the first possession, the Lady Patriots took a 32-16 lead into the third quarter. A jumper by Stemley and two by Lennix brought the Lady Cats to within 32-23 with 5:01 left in the quarter. But Ehret answered with a jumper by Meyers and a 3-pointer by Landry to take a 40-27 lead into the fourth quarter. Keller hit a 3-pointer from the left corner, then knocked down a jumper from the left side to make it 42-34 with 4:43 left. But Ehret would score the final nine points of the game. A 3-pointer by Lennix rimmed out with 3:27 left and Chekwa followed with a drive to make it a 10-point game again. “We never did get into sync,” Lennix, who was named to the all-tournament team, said. “We never did get it together. I’m disappointed. I wanted to get here. I didn’t come here to lose. I didn’t think we would lose.” Even though the team came up short, Giordano said his team has a lot to be proud of this year. “We accomplished all three of our goals this year,” Giordano said. “I’m proud of the accomplishments of this team. We went 33-4 and are the state runners-up. That’s pretty dang good.”