Lady Cats end season with playoff loss

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 25, 2002


RESERVE – The Lady Cats held 10-point lead going into the second half Thursday night, but Dominican returned to execute a 34-14 barrage, giving the Lady Cats their first home game loss in 69 games. Dominican’s 48-38 Class 5A quarterfinal win advances them to their first Sweet 16 girls tournament in the school’s history. Dominican will take its 23-9 record to face Mt. Carmel in the semifinals in Hammond. East St. John finishes the season 31-4.

“I told them they had nothing to be ashamed of. You can’t let one game spoil your accomplishments,” said Lady Cats’ coach Troy Giordano. “A lot of teams dream of a season like this.”

As the seconds ticked down, the Dominican players kept an eye on the clock, while passing the ball back and forth. When the buzzer finally sounded, the girls in black and white began cheering and hugging. The girls in black and gold slowly walked to their side of the court with tears in their eyes.

“We played bad in the fourth quarter,” admitted sophomore Kojavona Hamilton. She congratulated the Dominican team, then wiped the last tear from her face and said, “But we can start our winning streak over again next year.”

The Lady Cats snatched the tipoff to start the game, but neither team scored until one minute later when Dominican dropped in two from under the goal. East St. John remained scoreless for the next two minutes, until senior Courtney Drayton weaved through the black and white defenders to rush in for a lay up and draw the foul. Her three points handed East St. John a 3-2 lead and laid the foundation for the Lady Cats’ game plan. For the next 13 minutes, at least two Lady Cats continuously worked their way under the goal and routinely returned any offensive rebounds back up for points.

With less than one minute remaining in the first quarter, sophomore Erin Keller fired a shot to put East St. John up 10-7, then was immediately followed by Hamilton, who cruised past two Dominican defenders for a clean lay up and five point lead. Dominican closed the first quarter with two foul shots to close the Lady Cats’ lead to three, 12-9.

Through the second quarter, the Lady Cats kept Dominican’s scoring at bay, by forcing them to shot from the outside, where almost none of their attempts were successful. On the other side of the court, East St. John ran up their lead with a balance of shots from both the inside and outside.

While the Dominican defense did not allow the Lady Cats free reign of their home court, the Lady Cats’ defense did not allow Dominican to score for more than six minutes in the second quarter.

Dominican managed to score a total of five points, compared to East St. John’s 12-point addition to their now 10-point lead.

Hamilton scored the first goal of the second half within the first 30 seconds, but Dominican began to threaten by finally sinking shots from past 10 feet out. By the end of the third quarter, Dominican had chipped East St. John’s lead down to only two points. Lady Cat junior Lacresha Walker added one point to the board after she was fouled with one-tenth of a second remaining.

Dominican and Lady Cat freshman Nikita Robertson traded shots through the first minutes, keeping East St. John in the lead, but Dominican eventually tied the game at 34 with just under six minutes remaining. Forty seconds later, a Dominican fast break for a lay up put them in the lead. Hamilton gave the Lady Cats one last chance for the lead, tieing the score at 36 with her two foul shots. Dominican dropped in a three-point shot, which then sparked their 9-2 drive.

“I wanted them to play as hard as they did in the first half and do nothing to hold back, because I knew Dominican was too good of a team not to make a come back,” said Giordano. “We were getting the shots we wanted, but they weren’t going in. We couldn’t buy a bucket in the fourth quarter, but I thought our players kept their composure all the way to the end.”

He said the Lady Cats will graduate two seniors from this year’s team.

“Overall this is still a young team,” he added. “They can use this experience to be a hard team to beat next year.”