ESJ wins second straight, downs WSJ

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Sports Editor

East St. John collected its second straight victory Friday night, as it pulled away from host West St. John in the second half to win 75-50.

Five Wildcats scored nine points or more in a balanced effort, led by Jamaan Kenner’s 14 points. Brashad Hawkins scored 12, Bryce Robertson scored 11, and Malcom Lago and Josh Johnson added nine each.

For West St. John (6-7), Alton Joseph led the way with 15 points. Raynard Thomas tallied 12.

East St. John Coach Yussef Jasmine says that after an extended rough patch, his players are starting to learn their roles on the floor and play with a purpose.

“We’re playing with a sense of urgency now,” said Jasmine. “We haven’t been as careless with the ball, trying to force plays when they aren’t there.”

The Rams led after a quarter, 12-9, but East St. John (8-12) quickly got on a roll. The Wildcats scored 27 points in the second quarter to go ahead 36-27 at halftime, and led 56-40 after three quarters.

Jasmine said that his team’s surge coincided with a decision to push the game’s pace defensively.

“We started in a 2-3 zone, and it slowed the game down,” said Jasmine. “We turned the pressure up and got out in transition. It led to some easy baskets.”

West St. John, down to seven players partially due to injury, wilted under that pressure defense, and wore down as the game went on.

“We only scored 23 points after halftime,” said West St. John Coach Antoine Edwards. “We weren’t able to apply any defensive pressure. We turned it over, and we weren’t able to make the extra pass when we had to in order to get it in position.”

Plagued by turnovers for much of the team’s first 18 games, Jasmine says that an emphasis on assist-to-turnover ratio appears to be helping his Wildcats turn it around this season – and no time is better than the present. After home matchups with Brother Martin on Tuesday and Reserve Christian on Friday, East St. John opens district play the following week.

“We made a lot of careless mistakes early on. We could break pressure, but then we’d turn it over. It was a lot of unforced mistakes,” Jasmine said. “We’re learning how to protect the ball and make safer plays.”

West St. John, meanwhile, has still won six of its last ten games, and will begin district play on Jan. 15 at East Iberville.