Tigers take down Wildcats in district opener

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 11, 2008


Sports Editor

It didn’t take long for the landscape of District 6-5A to begin to take shape.

With host Hahnville and East St. John locked in a district opening battle on Tuesday night, the winner between two of the division’s top contenders would perhaps earn the pole position in the race – and set the other back on its heels.

The Tigers were able to do just that, relying on its veteran savvy and experience to outlast a young Wildcats lineup, 48-41.

The Wildcats led 28-27 entering the fourth quarter, but the Tigers outscored East St. John 21-13 in the fourth quarter to establish control of the game.

“It’s one of those games where if you win, you’re in the driver’s seat for a district title,” said East St. John Coach Troy Giordano. “You let it get away, and now you’re faced with a must win situation (Friday at East Ascension).”

East St. John point guard Mechelle Thomas accumulated three fouls in the first quarter, effectively removing her from the action for long stretches of play in the second and third quarters. Her young teammates were able to hold down the fort in her absence and make enough plays to keep the Hahnville crowd out of the game.

“We did a great job getting back defensively,” said Giordano. “We set the tempo in their place, held their running game back and kept it close. That kept the fans from really getting riled up.”

But the Wildcats inexperience would do them in during the fourth quarter. Hahnville rode four seniors in its fourth quarter lineup, one that forced the young Wildcats, with only one senior, into eight turnovers down the stretch.

“They took it from us in the fourth,” Giordano said. “Inexperience crushed us late, a lack of veteran players who can take over at the end of a game. Their four seniors controlled the game down the stretch.

“With a little more experience, if we keep our composure, we could get a tremendous win on the road. But these young kids have to learn how.”

And although East St. John almost emerged with the win despite long absences by Thomas, the team’s leading scorer, Giordano was in no mood for moral victories.

“We don’t play for those,” said Giordano. “We’re not going in to try to upset Hahnville, or give them a tough game. We’re going in expecting to win the game, to make our claim for the district title.”

“The bottom line is we lost a game that we could have won. Moral victories are not victories at East St. John, and our young kids have to start understanding that.”

Missy Scrubbs led Hahnville with 12 points. Nadia Cox added 10.

For East St. John, Thomas led the way with 11 points. Wanisha Creecy scored eight. Christin Hildreth and Laci Dent each added seven.