Rayville rallies by Wildcats

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2001


Hornets defeat St. James in Class 3A title game

PHOTO: ST. JAMES receives the Class 3A runner-up trophy after falling to Rayville, 82-59, Friday night. (Staff Photo by Daniel Tyler Gooden) LAFAYETTE – Rayville found a way to do something Friday night that few teams have done all year – put the breaks on a run by St. James. Rayville overcame an early deficit to defeat the Wildcats, 82-59, in the Class 3A state championship game at the Cajundome. The title was the first for the Hornets in four trips to the Top 28 and ended St. James’ hopes for a second consecutive title. Rayville ended the season at 32-6 while St. James finished at 21-7. “We played a good team tonight and we didn’t play our best ball,” St. James head coach Lionel Ezidore said. “We were prepared to play. Things just didn’t go the way we wanted them to go.” Unlike their semifinal victory over L.B. Landry when they had only two players in double figures, the Hornets got balanced scoring against the Wildcats. Tyrone Johnson led Rayville with 23 points and 10 assists to go with eight rebounds in being named MVP of the Class 3A tournament. Terrance Ward added 19 points and three steals. Edgar Jones finished with 15 points while Darren Smith had 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Rayville shot 50 percent from the field and committed just nine turnovers. “I don’t think we had that many turnovers like we did against L.B. Landry,” Rayville head coach Larry Wilson said. “I think we controlled the ball and got some good looks. We cut down on turnovers and got the shots we wanted and my guys hit their shots tonight.” St. James was led by Stevenson Jones with 23 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Derrick Jones contributed 12 points and Justin Aubert had 10 points and seven rebounds. St. James appeared to be on its way to becoming the first Class 3A team to repeat since Parkview Baptist in 1998, jumping out to a 6-0 lead as Henry Washington took a steal in. A drive by Derrick Jones gave the Wildcats an 8-2 lead with six minutes to play in the opening quarter. “Normally when we get going, we keep going,” Ezidore said. “Tonight it looked like we had a little stumbling back.” Johnson brought Rayville right back, scoring on consecutive drives, then dropping in a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Hornets their first lead at 9-8 with 4:54 left. Stevenson Jones put St. James back ahead with a jumper from the left baseline before Ward hit a 3-pointer from the left corner. A drive by Jones tied the game for the last time at 12. Jerome Wilson put Rayville ahead for good with a free throw. Smith followed with a put back and Johnson added two free throws to make it 17-12 with 3:25 left. A 3-pointer by Jones gave the Hornets their biggest lead of the quarter at 22-16. Stevenson Jones, despite playing with two fouls, pulled St. James back with a drive and a tap-in. Two free throws by Jones made it 24-22 at the end of the first quarter. “I’ve got some guys with some confidence,” Wilson said of the team not panicking despite playing in its first title game. “You can’t rattle them too easily.” Rayville took advantage of foul trouble by St. James to pull away in the second quarter. After Derrick Jones picked up his second foul, Wilson tapped in a shot to make it 28-22. Washington picked up his third on a drive by Johnson with Johnson hitting one of the two foul shots to make it 29-22 with 6:32 left. Jones’ second 3-pointer of the game gave the Hornets a 32-23 lead. Washington picked up his fourth foul with 4:23 left in the half on a rebound by Jones. Stevenson Jones came back with a put back to cut the deficit to 10 but Ward answered by banking in a 3-pointer from the left wing. Ward took in a steal to make it a 16-point game before a goal-tending call on a put back by Jerrel Price made it 45-31 at the half. Unlike its semifinal game against Minden in which St. James rallied from a 14-point deficit, Rayville would not let the Wildcats back in the game. A drive along the left baseline by Ward gave the Hornets a 53-33 lead with 4:28 left. A jumper from the free throw line by Ward helped Rayville take a 25-point lead before Erron Hickerson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 60-38 going into the fourth quarter. “At halftime, we felt we could come back,” senior LeVar Joseph said. “We were pushing it. But our shots weren’t falling and we weren’t getting back on defense.” Aubert got the Wildcats to within 68-49 with under five minutes to play. Buy Rayville answered with a pass from Johnson to Wilson inside. A drive by Jere Edwards off a bounce pass by Johnson have the Hornets an 80-53 lead. St. James used drives by Derrick Jones and Aubert and a tip-in by Nelson Jasmin to pull to within 80-59 in the final minutes. “They played great and we didn’t,” Ezidore said. “They are going home with the trophy and we are going home with the runner-up trophy. I told our guys we were champions for 365 days. We tried to go through 365 days more but it didn’t go our way. We just have to go back to the drawing board and get ready for next year. We started off with four new guys and I’m really proud of our team. We lost some real good players from last year. We had some good players coming back and we had some young guys really stepped it up. But win, lose or draw, I loved those Wildcats.”