Wildcats win two-of-three at Shaw tourney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Sports Editor

East St. John entered the Shaw tournament over the weekend down a major weapon, but managed to win two games and fall just short of a third.

Without point guard Malcom Lago, who missed the tournament with a toe injury, the Wildcats fell in overtime to Higgins on Thursday 58-50. But ESJ rebounded with a win Friday over Cohen, 58-54, and another on Saturday against Warren-Easton, 65-38.

“To win a couple without (Lago), it’s good for us,” said East St. John Coach Yussef Jasmine. “We were able to get some other guys into the rotation, who might not normally have had the chance to play.”

Higgins took a 25-17 advantage at halftime Thursday, and led by seven entering the fourth quarter. But the ESJ offense, which hadn’t bested 10 points in any of the previous three quarters, came alive. ESJ’s 20 fourth quarter points were enough to force overtime.

But the Hurricanes’ defense stepped up once again in the extra frame. Higgins outscored the Wildcats (7-8) 11-3 in the overtime period.

“We did a good job fighting our way back,” said Jasmine. “But we turned it over too many times. They were scoring off those, and that hurt us. We did a good job forcing them into some mistakes, but we made so many ourselves that it didn’t help.”

Kaylon Placide scored 12 to lead ESJ. Anthony Dawson and Lucas Martin each scored eight.

On Friday, it took East St. John a little while to shake loose of Cohen, which trailed by only one at halftime, 25-24. But the Wildcats defense held Cohen to eight third quarter points, allowing themselves a chance to build a seven point lead. ESJ maintained control the rest of the way.

“I thought we pretty much dictated things,” said Jasmine. Our size advantage gave us an edge, and we were able to work our offense down low.”

True to Jasmine’s words, his two big men led the way — Center Kelth Cameron led the Wildcats with 16 points, while frontcourt-mate Dawson chipped in 15. Sean Thomas added eight.

Four Wildcats scored in double figures Saturday, as ESJ rode a dominant second half performance to a 65-38 win over Warren-Easton.

ESJ outscored the Eagles 38-21 after halftime to extend a 10-point first half advantage to 27.

Dawson scored 12, while Placide, Cameron and Thomas each added 10.

Jasmine said that the multiple scoring options on his team have been a Wildcats’ strength all season.

“We’ve got a pretty good overall team. We don’t have that one guy that scored 30 a night. We get our scoring from a lot of different guys,” he said.

With the second half of the season — including district play — about to kick off within the next month, Jasmine says the main thing he would like to see improved is his team’s consistency, not just on the season, but in individual games.

“When we watch our team on film, and we execute what we practice, it works almost every time,” Jasmine says. “Of course, the defenses we play have had something to do with us sometimes doing things we don’t want to do. But when we consistently run our offense, we succeed.

“So I’d like to see that aspect improve. But I do believe we’re getting there.”