Gators nip Wildcats in overtime, 78-76

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 18, 2008


Sports Editor

Ecstasy turned to agony Tuesday night for East St. John in its district opener.

Bryce Robertson’s last-second three-pointer in overtime was deemed by officials to have been a split-second too late. As a result, host St. Amant was able to hold onto its two-point lead and emerge with a 78-76 win.

With only three seconds left in overtime, East St. John trailed by two and had to inbound the ball from underneath their own basket.

Jamaan Kenner, who successfully forced overtime with a three-pointer at the end of regulation, received the ball and saw Robertson open. Robertson converted a good look at the basket, but the Wildcats ran out of time.

“My kids played real well for the most part,” said East St. John Coach Yussef Jasmine. “We made some mistakes at critical times, and some calls didn’t go in our favor. But we have to find a way to win these games.

Rashaun Claiborne and Jermoine Lewis each scored a game-high 25 points for St. Amant (13-7, 1-0).

Malcom Lago led the Wildcats (9-14, 0-1) with 21 points. Josh Johnson scored 17, including three 3-pointers. Kenner added 13, and Kelth Cameron tallied nine.

The game was a back and forth affair in which St. Amant led 15-12 after a quarter before relinquishing the lead to East St. John, who had a 35-30 advantage at halftime.

St. Amant cut the deficit to one entering the fourth quarter, 54-53. It led by three late until Kenner’s overtime forcing 3-pointer.

“It was a set play we drew up and he got the shot off,” said Jasmine. “It didn’t go exactly how I drew it up, but he made a tough 3.”

Jasmine said that while the loss stings, he sees it potentially providing the motivation his team needs to step up to the next level.

“I think it motivates them, it shows them the need to dominate a game from start to finish,” said Jasmine. “They now know that they can’t leave things to chance like that.

“Even with some of these losses, I feel like my kids have bought into the system. That in turn gives me an extra boost at practice, knowing they’re committed to doing what it takes to turn these losses into wins.”