Ladycats surge past Destrehan in finale

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hildreth grabs 17 boards, Creecy scores 18; ESJ on way to postseason for 13th straight year


Sports Editor

With his team at 1-3 in district play a month ago, East St. John Coach Troy Giordano was in a very unfamiliar position – not knowing if his team would qualify for the state playoffs for the 13th straight year.

“I thought we were in trouble,” he said.

That was then, this is now. The Ladycats ended the season on a 6-1 tear, capped off by a dominating 61-23 victory over rival Destrehan on Friday night at East St. John.

In doing so, East St. John (23-13, 6-4) clinched the third seed in District 6-5A and yet another playoff berth.

“Our backs were against the wall,” said Giordano. “But the kids never gave up, and they deserve to go to the playoffs after how they’ve played, winning against teams like Hahnville and East Ascension. They’ve earned the right.”

East St. John will travel for its first playoff game on Thursday. The playoff matchups were revealed after press time on Tuesday.

Before the game, the Wildcats honored senior starters Christin Hildreth and Brittany Stemley for the team’s senior night.

Hildreth made her last regular season home game one to remember, an all-around performance in which she netted eight points, 17 rebounds, five steals, three blocks and two assists to lead her team to the win.

“We have to set the example for our teammates,” said Hildreth of herself and Stemley.

“She had a monster night,” said Giordano.

Wanisha Creecy led the Wildcats in scoring with 18 points. Mechel’le Thomas scored 14. Stemley and Tiffany Turner each added six.

Kayla Bradley led Destrehan (15-18, 2-8) with eight points.

The game was nip and tuck in the first quarter, with East St. John leading 12-11 entering the second.

But there, the Wildcats took off and never looked back. With ESJ leading 14-12, a 3-pointer by Thomas and two by Creecy drove the score to 23-14. From there, ESJ scored the final 14 points of the quarter to lead 34-14 at halftime.

“We underestimated them at the beginning, but then we picked up the intensity,” said Hildreth.

The Wildcats weren’t finished, beginning the second half on a 17-2 run. Destrehan didn’t score its second basket of the quarter until 1:08 was left on the clock. ESJ held Destrehan to two points for almost quarter and a half, from the beginning of its run in the second quarter.

“We play great defense in spurts, and that’s brought us back in games where we haven’t had great starts,” said Giordano. “Sometimes, we can lock down on defense as well as anyone in the state.”