Hilliard lifts roaring Tigers over Rams in rematch
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 6, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
West St. John overcame one high-octane scorer in East Iberville’s Earl Warren to defeat the Tigers in their 9-1A district opener on Jan. 15.
But as the Rams learned on Friday night, stopping two can be rather tricky.
Warren scored 30 points and Paul Hilliard scored 26 as the Tigers scored a crucial victory at West St. John, 84-67.
Hilliard was injured in the first meeting between the teams, but was back with a vengeance on Friday, as he and Warren put on a high-flying show for those in attendance, including a number of dunks.
“Having him back, an All-State talent like he is, I think it motivated all the kids on the team,” said East Iberville Coach Doug Schultz. “With both he and Earl on the perimeter, it really opens it up for our big men inside.”
West St. John Coach Antoine Edwards agreed, but said that Hilliard’s return wasn’t the only reason for the loss.
“Getting Paul back obviously helped them,” said Edwards. “He played well. Even so, defensively, we let ourselves get into a hole.”
Blake Comminie led West St. John (11-11, 3-2) with 23 points. Raynard Thomas scored 18, and Alton Joseph added eight.
The Tigers (20-7, 3-2) started the game out on fire, and never cooled. Warren and Hilliard combined to score 14 of their first 16 points, and East Iberville led 16-9.
Five players scored within the first 14 points for the Rams, which is nothing new for their balanced attack. But for all their weapons, the Rams had trouble keeping up with the Tiger offense. Leading 35-26 in the second quarter, the Tigers rattled off 11 straight points to take a 47-26 lead and blow open the game.
West St. John wouldn’t make a serious push until the fourth quarter, when a Comminie bucket kick-started a 14-4 run that cut a 24-point Tiger lead to 14, 69-55. Comminie scored eight points in the stretch, which also included baskets by Thomas and Joseph.
But three unanswered baskets by Mitch Johnson, Warren and Hilliard sealed the win for East Iberville.
East Iberville pushed the ball in transition for four quarters, and scored efficiently even when forced to play in a half-court set.
“We didn’t play defense well enough,” said Thomas. “We’ve got to play better defense to go on and beat White Castle.”
West St. John is now tied for second place in District 9-1A with East Iberville.
“All the games in the second half of district play will be big,” said Edwards. “The game at White Castle won’t be easy, but we have to regroup and get a win.”