Rams defeat Comets to capture first place in Riverside Holiday Classic

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2007


Sports Editor

It took a few games, but the West St. John Rams appear to be hitting their stride on the basketball floor.

The Rams defeated St. Charles last Saturday in the finals of the Riverside Holiday Classic, 47-34.

Jessie Silas led West St. John with 15 points.

DeMarcus Bernard led St. Charles with 17 points. Vincent Rollo scored 15, including five 3-pointers.

After falling to 0-3 to begin the season, West St. John won three straight to capture the tourney crown, including wins over Redemptorist and Grace King before the final game with SCC.

“We came up with some key plays at the right times,” said West St. John Coach Antoine Edwards. “That was a tight game that could have gone either way. St. Charles played hard, and our defense stepped up to the challenge.”

The Rams’ defense did seem to come out with something to prove. It shut the Comets out in the first quarter and led 10-0 entering the second.

“We just came out flat,” said St. Charles

Coach Jonathan Hernandez. “We seemed to be a half-second too slow to the spots we needed to be at. We dug ourselves such a hole that we had to expend all of our energy to climb out of it.”

But Hernandez challenged his team to bring more intensity between quarters, and the Comets did just that. A Bernard jumper ignited an 11-2 run that saw St. Charles draw within two, 13-11. A Rollo 3-pointer with four seconds left in the first half would cut a 17-12 West St. John lead to 17-15 at halftime.

“We eliminated a lot of our early mistakes,” said Hernandez. “That allowed us to fight our way back into the game.”

“We got a little soft and lackadaisical,” Edwards said. “We had to regroup.”

But a series of baskets by Silas, Raynard Thomas and Blake Comminie helped the Rams push their lead to 24-17 early in the third quarter. Baskets by O.J. Watkins and Rollo again cut the lead to two, 24-22, but a Silas basket kick started a 7-0 run that made it 31-22.

St. Charles more than matched the feat, embarking on an 8-0 run of its own, including baskets by Bernard and Rollo. It cut the Rams’ lead to 31-30, the closest St. Charles would get.

A basket by the Rams’ Alton Joseph and a 3-pointer by Silas extended the lead to 36-30. Bernard would score to cut the lead to four, but West St. John scored the next five points to put the game out of reach with little time remaining.

“It feels good,” Silas said. “We’ve finally started to win. Last year was a down year for us, we want to get back to that winning West St. John tradition.”

West St. John defeated Grace King last Friday, 68-57, in the tournament semifinals.

On the same night, St. Charles defeated Central Lafourche 60-47 to advance to the final game.

Bernard and Jesse Coleman each scored 14 to lead the team. Rollo added 12.

St. Charles led by four at halftime and extended its lead to 38-27 entering the fourth quarter.