Rams advance with win over Oak Grove

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Sports Editor

After a half of play on Friday night, West St. John Coach Antoine Edwards found Oak Grove to be a little too close for comfort.

The No. 19 seeded Tigers trailed the No. 14 Rams by seven, 22-15, in a plodding, low-scoring bi-district playoff game that negated West St. John’s advantage in the open court.

So Edwards had a message for his team: it’s time to force the issue.

The Rams responded. West St. John pushed its lead to 15 in the fourth quarter, and the Rams held on for a 48-33 victory.

“(Coach Lennix) Madere and I told the kids from Jump Street that we had to pressure them, that it would be a problem for them to handle it,” said Edwards. “We just tried to force the tempo.”

West St. John (13-12) advanced to the regional round as a result of the win, where it faced No. 3 seed Country Day on Tuesday night (after press time) at Country Day.

Raynard Thomas led the Rams with 14 points. Blake Comminie and Alton Joseph each scored ten.

The Tigers’ Clay Howard led his team with 14.

WSJ guard Carday Barnes said that a major key was the Rams’ ability to get the ball in the paint.

“We knew we had to move the ball more, and get it to our big men inside,” Barnes said.

Oak Grove  (11-11) scored early in the fourth quarter to cut an eight point West St. John lead to six, 35-29.

Thomas hit a 3, and Howard made a jumper to make it 38-31.

But then West St. John put Oak Grove in its rearview mirror for good. Jessie Silas scored to start a 10-2 run to finish the game. The run also included buckets from Dray Joseph, Comminie, and Barnes.

“We didn’t want to play in a slow down effort,” said Edwards. “If the score remained close like it was, its how you get beat by a late basket.”

After missing the postseason in 2007, Edwards said that the Rams were eager to finally put it behind them and attain some postseason success yet again.

“It’s a big accomplishment for us,” said Edwards. “Like I told the kids, if you look at where we are compared to last year, it’s like watching someone else play.

“To go from making the playoffs for more than 20 years consistently, then missing out, it’s good to try and get back to continuing the tradition we’ve got here in basketball.”

Barnes agreed.

“By not making it last year, it made us hungrier this time,” he said. “We’ve been working hard, and we’re determined to keep going.”