Lady Cats rally to claim eighth straight district championship

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

GEORGE MAHL – Sports Editor

RESERVE – The East St. John Lady Cats won their eighth straight district championship with a come-from-behind 53-47 victory over H.L. Bourgeois Friday night in Reserve. Kojo Hamilton led the Lady Cats by scoring 23 points.

“I think our conditioning paid off tonight,” explained East St. John Head Coach Troy Giordano. “My kids showed heart out there.”

East St. John trailed for most of the game. However, with 2:58 to play Nikita Robertson nailed a 3-pointer to give the Lady Cats a 49-47 lead. The Lady Cats then went on a 6-0 run for the remainder of the game to get the victory.

“My seniors stepped up tonight. This meant everything to them because they did not want to be a part of the first class not to win the district in eight years,” Giordano said.

It was looking bleak for the Lady Cats during the first five minutes of the game. After Erin Keller made a foul shot to give the Lady Cats a 1-0 lead, the Lady Braves ran off eight straight points to give them an early 8-1 lead.

HLB lead 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Neither team could gain momentum in the second quarter. With about six minutes left in the third quarter, Hamilton scored six unanswered points to trim the H.L. Bourgeois lead to 21-18.

A technical foul called against ESJ right before halftime sent Lady Braves starter Ashley Allen to the foul line. Allen made one of three free throws to give HLB a 28-24 lead at halftime.

The third quarter saw the Lady Cats tied the score on two occasions, but never managed to take the lead. Robertson cut the lead to 33-31 and also was responsible for tying the game 33-33. Her two free throws pulled the Lady Cats to within two. On the Lady Cats next possession, her jumper tied the game 33-33. Her jumper was the closest the Lady Cats had come since late in the first period.

With HLB leading 40-38 with 1:58 left in the third quarter, Lady Braves guard Latoya Celestin went the length of the court and pulled up and drained a 3-pointer, giving the Houma school a five point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Braves hit a jumper to give them a 45-40 lead with 4:57 left to play. Two possessions later, Hamilton made a lay-up to pull East St. John to within a point, 45-44 with 4:01 left to play.

The Lady Cats will begin their quest for a 5A State Championship at home this week.

The victory made Giordano the winningest girls basketball coach at East St. John.