DHS topples ESJ in battle of Wildcats

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Sports Editor

The setup for Friday night’s game between Destrehan and East St. John was as much as anyone could ask for.

A Destrehan team trying to keep pace with East Ascension for a chance to capture the District 6-5A crown, facing rival East St. John, which needed a win to support its playoff hopes after a pair of losses.

But while the stage was set for a down to the wire classic, as the case was in the first meeting between the two teams, it wasn’t in the cards. Destrehan established a big second half lead and never looked back on its way to a 77-64 district win.

“We wanted to win very badly,” said Destrehan’s Roosevelt Johnson, who led his team with 17 points. “We knew they’d come out hard, with them needing the win. We had to match them.”

Destrehan (24-9, 6-2) started the second half with a 15-4 run to open up a 45-27 lead on East St. John. Destrehan led by over 20 points at times in the fourth quarter, before a late East St. John run cut the final margin.

“It’s always crucial to come out of the half with a push,” said Destrehan Coach Todd Bourg. “If you come out hot in the first five minutes, you can blow it open, and we did.”

Each team was missing one of its big guns. Destrehan will be without the services of guard Tim Molton for the rest of the season due to injury. East St. John (11-19, 2-6), meanwhile, played without 6’7 center Kelth Cameron, who has now missed the last two games with injury – both ESJ losses.

While its never a good time for an injury, the loss of Cameron came at a particularly bad time for East St. John, which will likely now have to win out in its final two games for a shot at the postseason.

“I knew he had a big presence and that we’d miss him, but I never realized how much the team’s confidence would be missing without him,” said ESJ Coach Yussef Jasmine. “It’s as if Kelth were averaging 30 and 20, that’s how big the loss has been emotionally.”

Destrehan opened the game on a 10-0 run, including three baskets by guard Darrow Barnes. ESJ’s Josh Johnson ended the run with a 3-pointer with 3:18 left in the first quarter.

DHS led 18-5 entering the second quarter, but ESJ cut the lead with an 11-2 run that began with a basket by Kalen Placide and included buckets by Jamaan Kenner, Kalen Henderson and Malcom Lago. It made it 20-16.

Destrehan would push the lead back to seven before halftime, before starting the second half off on a roll.

Barnes finished with 14 points. Robert Flowers and Kevin Smothers each scored 10 for DHS.

Placide and Johnson each scored 12 for ESJ. Jamaan Kenner led the way with 19 points, but didn’t get rolling until late.

“I really didn’t start scoring until the fourth quarter,” Kenner said. “I didn’t want to force anything. I need to get into the flow earlier.”

Destrehan generated much of its offense from its defense, which pressured ESJ into turnovers that created fast break opportunities.

“We just turned it over too many times,” said Kenner.

Said Roosevelt Johnson: “We concentrated on defense in this game. We kept them off the glass and got some layups off of turnovers.”

That defense also flourished behind the shot-blocking of 6’8 center Dwayne Brown, who protected the lane all night.

“I wish I could just hang him on the rim and leave him there,” said Bourg.

Jasmine said that this Destrehan squad looked like a different team from the one he saw back on Jan. 22, when DHS defeated ESJ 66-60.

“They came with a different confidence,” said Jasmine. “They came like they were the number two team in the district. We didn’t match their intensity.”