Tarpons edge visiting Ladycats
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
Even after his Wildcats fell for the fourth time this season, East St. John Coach Troy Giordano had no complaints to voice.
Host South Lafourche topped East St. John for the second time this season Tuesday night, 57-53, in a back and forth contest that, even in December, carried a playoff atmosphere.
“It was an unbelievable game,” said Giordano. “From a fans perspective, I don’t see how anyone could have been disappointed. The only bad thing about it was that neither team deserved to lose. I’m disappointed that we lost, but not at all at our effort.”
The Wildcats (12-4) led by as many as eight in the second half, but the Tarpons took a one-point lead with less than a minute remaining after converting two free throws.
East St. John’s Halle Lennix Drew a foul on the offensive end, sending the sophomore to the line. She missed the front end of a one-and-one, and ESJ had to foul — but upon doing so, officials whistled the Wildcats for an intentional foul, which gave South Lafourche two foul shots and the ball.
“It was the right call,” said Giordano. “It was just a freshman mistake. Sometimes, I forget how young my team really is.”
The Tarpons converted both shots and ESJ had to foul again, resulting in another made free throw. Down by four, East St. John’s final shot didn’t go, and South Lafourche held on.
“They made a play every time they needed to,” said Giordano of his opposition. “It was just a battle between two teams that really wanted to take home a win.”
Almost a month ago, South Lafourche defeated East St. John by seven at the Teurlings Catholic tournament. It was a game the Tarpons led by as many as 18, and never lost control of.
That his team bounced back from that effort on a neutral court, to put together a much better showing at South Lafourche shows a lot of growth within his team, Giordano said.
“We’re getting better. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “This was a good kind of game for my younger kids to experience.”
Mechel’le Thomas led the Wildcats with 28 points. Wanisha Creecy added 16.
East St. John trailed 28-27 at halftime, but jumped out to a 38-30 lead in the third quarter. South Lafourche fired back by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers before registering a steal. The Tarpons drew a foul and made both free throws to tie the game at 38.
But the Wildcats built another lead to end the third quarter, 45-40. This time, South Lafourche hit a 3, ESJ missed a layup, and the Tarpons drew a foul on the rebound. The ensuing foul shots tied the game up.
“Each time we thought we were going to make our push, they just wouldn’t go away,” Giordano said. “It was that kind of night.”
South Lafourche held ESJ to eight points in the final quarter.
There was a feeding frenzy at the foul stripe — South Lafourche shot 28 free throws, to 20 for East St. John. ESJ guard Ciara Augillard fouled out, and three Wildcats finished play with four fouls.
It also wasn’t East St. John’s best shooting night from the perimeter — the team’s usual downtown gunners combined for only three 3-point makes on the night. But that was mitigated by the smaller Wildcats topping South Lafourche on the boards, holding a 24-23 rebounding edge.
Even if everything weren’t ideal on this night for East St. John, their coach wouldn’t mind carrying over most of its elements for the rest of the season.
“If we put forth that kind of effort every night, we’d probably be 15-1, as opposed to 12-4 right now,” Giordano said.