Wildcats advance to semifinals at RCS tourney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Sports Editor

East St. John advanced to the semifinals of the Reserve Christian Invitational on Friday afternoon with a victory over Kashmere (TX), but the Wildcats were ousted later that night to Carencro.

Overall, the Wildcats went 1-2 this past weekend, after losing a fourth quarter lead to St. Thomas Aquinas on Saturday in the tournament’s third place game.

The Wildcats’ Malcom Lago made the Invitational’s “All-Tournament Team” after averaging 16 points per game.

ESJ (5-7) held off a late Kashmere rally and added a late push of its own to take 73-59 victory over the Rams.

“We protected the ball better at the end of the game. I thought it was a game where we really could have won big,” said ESJ Coach Yussef Jasmine. “We were a little raggity with the ball. We had to clean it up.”

Lago led all scorers with 25 points.

The Wildcats first took control of the game after closing the first quarter on a 9-0 run, capped by a Kalen Henderson bucket.

A Lucas Martin tip in made it 25-11. A layup and foul shot by Brashad Hawkins made it 28-14. East St. John pushed the lead to 16 on a put-back by Anthony Dawson, but led 35-22 at halftime after Kashmere got a 3-pointer to close the gap.

“We were getting some layups on them,” said Lago. “We made some nice passes to one another.”

Late in the third quarter, Kashmere’s defense turned it up a notch, as it started to force the Wildcats into turnovers and missed shots.

After a foul shot by Perry Mason, Jr. made it 47-35, the Rams scored the next seven points to cut their deficit to five. Mason scored on a drive to the basket, but Kashmere answered when a shot from halfcourt banked in to end the third quarter — until it was waived off by officials for coming slightly after the buzzer.

After a turnover in the fourth quarter, two free throws by Kashmere’s Johnathan Sices cut the Wildcats lead to three, 51-48.

A foul shot by Kaylon Placide and a basket by Henderson pushed the lead to 54-48. A pair of back-to-back baskets by Martin put ESJ ahead 58-50 with 3:54 left in the quarter. And after a Rams turnover, a jumper by LeBaron Sylvester put the Wildcats ahead 60-52. Kashmere would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.

Martin finished with 13 points. Henderson chipped in 10.

Jasmine said that his Wildcats hurt their own cause with turnovers and missed layups — but that a win is a win.

“It was ugly, but I’ll take it,” he said.

In the semifinals, Martin scored 20 but it wasn’t enough to hold off a furious third quarter by Carencro, which captured a 69-63 win on Saturday night.

ESJ led 34-30 at halftime, but Carencro outscored the Wildcats 20-11 in the third to take control of the game.

In the third-place game, East St. John fell to defending Class 2A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, 66-63.

In this case, it was a big fourth quarter effort that lifted the Falcons — they outscored the Wildcats 26-18 in the fourth quarter. STA led by double digits, and the Wildcats couldn’t recover after losing a 47-41 lead after three quarters.

Kelth Cameron scored 20 to lead ESJ. Placide added 15.