Thomas, Augillard lift ESJ into tourney final

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sports Editor

Mechel’le Thomas and Ciara Augillard combined to lead East St. John to a thrilling come from behind victory at the Holiday Classic tournament in Gulf Shores on Monday night, as the Ladycats defeated Mumford (AL) 63-58 in overtime.

Thomas’ shot in the lane with 1.5 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 54 to force overtime, and the senior point guard went on to score eight of her team’s nine overtime points to lead the way to victory.

Augillard was just as crucial in the comeback effort. She came within a basket of a triple double, scoring eight points, grabbing 12 rebounds and tallying 10 steals on the night.

“Ciara played big,” said ESJ Coach Troy Giordano. “Her play in the fourth really led us. She had a great fourth quarter. And in overtime, Mechel’le put us on her back.”

East St. John advanced to the tournament final with the win, which was scheduled to take place yesterday afternoon.

Thomas scored a game-high 29 points on a night where the Wildcats (16-6) trailed for most of the first three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, ESJ trailed by 11. But the Wildcats outscored Mumford 21-12 to force overtime.

It’s big for a young team’s confidence,” said Giordano. “This is the second overtime game we’ve won in two chances. Now, hopefully, they see that we can win the close ones, even if things aren’t going well all night.”

Mumford scored the first two buckets of overtime to go up by four, but wouldn’t score again.

“This was the kind of game that once you get all the way back to tie, you’ve gotta win it,” Giordano said. “If you don’t, you might see the bubble burst.”

Bria Joseph scored 11 for ESJ.

ESJ made eight 3-pointers in the game.

East St. John’s first round win at the Gulf Shores tournament came against Baldwin County (AL).

After the Wildcats went into the half trailing 20-17, ESJ Coach Troy Giordano implored his team to pick up the pace. The Ladycats responded, rallying to capture a 44-26 victory.

East St. John (15-6) allowed only six points in the second half.

”(Baldwin County) controlled the tempo in the first half. We got caught up in their game,” said Giordano. “When we turned it up in the second half, they couldn’t get an open look. They aren’t a team that looks to play up-and-down with you at all.”

Conversely, East St. John found its shooting stroke in the second half, canning five 3-pointers (ESJ hit seven in the game) on their way to 27-second half points.

In the first half, Baldwin County had the hot hand from deep, hitting five 3-pointers of their own.

(See ESJ, Page 12A)

“I thought we played lazy in the first half. We just played their tempo,” Giordano said. “They look to work it around to find a spot-up shooter. They didn’t really have anyone to put it on the floor, so that gave them trouble when we turned up the heat.”

Joseph led the way for ESJ with 12 points. Thomas added 11. Phallon Schnyder added eight.