ESJ Lady Cats top DHS 55-50

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 18, 2006

East St. John squad loses two starters to ineligibility


Sports Editor

RESERVE– When ESJ girls basketball coach Troy Giordano woke up last Friday morning, he was primed to lead his team in a district match-up that featured two squads ranked in the state’s top 10 that evening.

But later in the day, Giordano learned that he would have to play that game, and the rest of the season for that matter, without a pair of starters and several of his reserve players when they were ruled academically ineligible.

Then he got nervous.

&#8220I got JV platers turning around and playing in the varsity game,” he said before tip-off. &#8220This is a good team [we’re playing]. It could be that we’ll be lucky if we can just keep it within 20 points.”

His stress was not without reason. East St. John was hosting a Destrehan squad with a 15-5 record which was ranked eighth in the state.

But ESJ rode Michelle Thomas’ game high 23 points to a 55-50 victory after a slow start on their home court to take their district record to 2-0. The loss drops Destrehan’s girls to 1-1 in district.

&#8220They’re good,” Giordano said of the Destrehan squad after the game. &#8220But we were able to control the tempo of the game and put some pressure on them….This should help keep the team confident.”

Destrehan was able to score first in the game, off of a pair of baskets by Shunna Richard and Tawanna Lee. But ESJ’s Thomas got her team on the board with a basket of her own before Leslie Forest sparked a six to three run for the Lady Cats with a rebound and a fast break. After that, it seemed that ESJ had gained some swagger, which they would soon need as Destrehan showed that they weren’t going to lay down.

A basket by DHS’ Richard gave her team the lead again with eight seconds left in the first quarter, jumpstarting a push that would take them to a five-point advantage with less than two minutes until halftime. A jumper from Thomas and a three-pointer at the second quarter buzzer by Clemetrise Bell brought it to 26-25 going into the break.