Wildcats top Braves

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Sports Editor

East St. John scored a big win at home on Friday night, topping H.L. Bourgeois 76-72.

Malcom Lago scored 21 to lead ESJ over the Braves, who were the Class 5A runner-up a season ago.

Bourgeois’ Stevie Howard led all scorers with 29 points.

“It boosts our confidence tremendously,” said ESJ coach Yussef Jasmine. “It was our first home game, so to get a big win against a good team like Bourgeois in front of our fans, it just helps the guys believe in themselves more.”

The Braves (4-5) led 17-7 after a quarter, and Jasmine feared a repeat of the team’s performance against Country Day only four days earlier.

“Our confidence was shaken after that game,” he said. “We came out a little sluggish on Friday, just like we did Monday. But then our defense stepped up.”

By the end of the second quarter, the pressure of the Wildcat defense was getting to the Braves, whose lead was down to five, 32-27.

After three quarters, East St. John (4-4) led 51-48 after outscoring Bourgeois 24-16 in the third.

The Wildcats led by as many as nine in the fourth quarter, and defensively the Wildcats continued to keep the Braves from garnering good looks.

“Our defense really stabilized the lead at the end,” Jasmine said. “We were able to make a lot of tough shots to stay ahead against their own strong defense.”

A big shift came when Jasmine switched his team to a halfcourt trap in the first half to get the ball out of Howard’s hands.

“He was controlling the game,” Jasmine said. “We wanted to make it more difficult for him.”

Another was the team’s efficency in scoring off of turnovers, as the Wildcats pressure succeeded in giving them open court opportunities.

“We started playing at the tempo we wanted to play at,” he said.

“Kaylon Placide scored 14 for ESJ. Perry Mason, Jr. and Lucas Martin each scored 11.