Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008

DHS’ Cobbins’ desperation 3-pointer beats clock, sinks East St. John


Sports Editor

With 2.8 seconds left in East St. John’s clash with Dutchtown on Friday night, the Ladycats had new life in the District 6-5A chase.

But when the clock hit zero, they found their backs against the wall.

Dutchtown freshman Ka’Nesheia Cobbins banked in an off-balance, desperation 3-pointer as time expired to lift the Griffins over the Wildcats, 53-52.

The shot negated a spirited fourth quarter comeback by East St. John (17-12, 1-3), which trailed 42-32 midway through the period.

Ciara Augillard’s steal and layup with 5.5 seconds left in the game gave East St. John a late 52-50 lead.

Christin Hildreth’s deflection of the ensuing inbounds pass ran the clock down to 2.8 seconds.

The Wildcats allowed only one field goal in the final quarter – the final, deciding basket by Cobbins.

East St. John was ahead 21-17 at halftime, but fell behind after a poor third quarter performance that saw Dutchtown outscore East St. John 20-9.

“We did not lose this game on a last-second shot,” said East St. John Coach Troy Giordano. “We lost it in the third quarter, when we were outscored 20-9.

“She made a shot and they beat us, which is the bottom line. We can’t play for just three quarters and expect to beat a good team.”

Said Dutchtown Coach Annette Lowery: “She knew the game wasn’t over. She just put her head down and went for it. We originally were going to go for the tie, but she had to let it go.”

It was only the 10th loss in 149 career home games at East St. John for Giordano. The ninth came Dec. 10 against Central LaFourche – also by one, 56-55.

It puts the Wildcats in an unfamiliar and precarious position. With both East St. John and Destrehan sitting with three losses in district play, the battle between the teams on Tuesday became a fight for survival in the playoff race – a fourth loss would likely prove fatal for the hopes of either squad to secure the third and final playoff spot in District 6-5A.

Dutchtown (13-8, 4-0), meanwhile, remains in a first place tie with Hahnville.

Cobbins scored a game high 24 points.

Mechel’le Thomas led East St. John with 16 points. Wanisha Creecy added 12.

East St. John’s defense was rock solid for most of the game, forcing 31 Dutchtown turnovers.

“They cost us 31 turnovers, which tells you what kind of defense they play,” Lowery said. “We’re fortunate to come out of this with a win.”

Cobbins’ heroics were the subject of some debate after the game, though. After Giordano reviewed the tape, he found that the play appeared to take longer than the 2.9 seconds on the clock.

“What I’m aggravated about is, our clock guy didn’t start the clock fast enough, and they ended up with almost five seconds,” Giordano said.

Cobbins extended the Dutchtown lead to 10 midway through the fourth quarter after she scored four consecutive points at the foul line.

But Brittany Stemley started East St. John’s comeback run with two free throws. A Halle Lennix 3-pointer then made it 42-37.

A Creecy 3-pointer drew the Wildcats within one, 45-44, with 2:45 left.

Cobbins answered again, scoring two more at the stripe to make it a three-point game. But Thomas drove and converted for East St. John.

Creecy tied the game with a foul shot on ESJ’s next possession.

After the teams traded free throws, Dutchtown led 49-48 when a Stemley steal and shot attempt was put back by Hildreth, giving East St. John its first lead since early in the third quarter.

Dutchtown’s Venetra LeBlanc drew a foul on the other end, and made two foul shots to put Dutchtown ahead by one.

Back on offense, Thomas drew a foul and made one of two from the line to tie the game with 18.5 seconds left.

“My biggest concern now is how this team responds. This was a heart-wrenching loss for such a young team to deal with,” said Giordano. “But if we don’t respond quickly, we’re done.”