East St. John sharper in Wildcat district showdown Tuesday night

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 5, 2007


Sports Editor

RESERVE – When it comes to the district 5-5A basketball title race, East St. John is looking to be the biggest cat on the block.

Destrehan’s boys and girls basketball squads came into the ESJ gym last Tuesday for the second district meeting between the two Wildcat teams where the home team took both the early and evening games in front of a packed house to put themselves in prime position for a run to the district championship.

The girls game took off quickly, with ESJ jumping out to a 16-7 lead after the first quarter, mostly off of scores by Michel’le Thomas who got 11 of her 22 total points in the first eight minutes. Destrehan adjusted a bit for the second quarter and outscored East St. John by three points as Kati Knight and LaDaisha Smith kept DHS alive with a pair of clutch baskets each to make it 25-19 by halftime.

But after the break, Thomas got it back in gear, knocking down a three about mid-way through the quarter, and drawing the defense off of their assignments to create open layups for Christin Hildreth and Creshonia Boyd. Tawanna Lee and Paige King of Destrehan combined for nine points to keep the game in question going into the final quarter, 45-32.

With the final eight minutes, Destrehan was just unable to close the gap as Trolanda Payne and Crystal Fleming combined for six of ESJ’s eight baskets in the fourth to close it out in the home team’s favor, 67-43.

But East St. John’s girls squad still has their work cut out for them according to head coach Troy Giordano, in the tough 5-5A district alongside Hahnville and Ehret, all three of whom have been consistently ranked among the top ten in the state this season.

&#8220We’ve got a tough one this Friday,” said Giordano of an upcoming game against Hahnville. &#8220We got them last time, but that was on our home court. Going up there, then having to go to Ehret for the last one, we could be in first or third in our district by the time it’s over. So every one of them is important.”

On the boys side, East St. John bettered their chances at their first ever district title in basketball with a 63-57 win over Destrehan to even the series between the two, leaving them in a tie for first in 5-5A at 3-1.

ESJ took advantage of this one on their home court after falling in the game at DHS 34-31 two weeks ago. They were effective early by spreading the ball around, with baskets by Trenton Marshall, Ladarius Ratcliff, Charles Gant, Brandon Neal and Miguel Singleton. Roosevelt Johnson got five in the quarter to keep East St. John honest, and it went into the second with a 12-7 score.

There, Tim Molten helped propel DHS with ten of his 22 points in the second period while Jamaan Kenner kept them in check with a three and a pair of putbacks. Destrehan closed the gap to two points just before halftime as it went into the break 30-28 to ESJ’s advantage.

Trenton Marshall made sure that his Wildcats would stay in front from there on out when he came out fast in the third quarter, getting three straight baskets and popping a three pointer to drive the ESJ offense.

Destrehan countered with a balanced attack that featured baskets by Johnson, Molten, and Winrick Smothers, bringing it down to the final eight minutes with the home team at just a one point edge.

But East St. John milked that lead with early scores in the quarter by Marshall, Dorsey and Singleton, and Destrehan just didn’t have enough time as they sent Neal to the line for seven free throws to stop the clock. He went six-for-seven from there though, finishing it up at a score of 63-57 and an ESJ victory.

The win puts East St. John and Destrehan in a tie for the district lead, but with both Hahnville and Ehret just one game behind, and only two left to play, there isn’t much room for error in 5-5A.

&#8220You’ve got to get these home games,” said ESJ coach Charles Julien. &#8220If we can play a complete for 32 minutes, we’ve got a shot. But it’s so close between all these teams, and they’re all so good, that there’s no telling. Hahnville and Ehret on the road… That won’t be easy.”