Wildcats advance to St. Martinville final

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sports Editor

East St. John advanced to the finals of the St. Martinville tournament with two wins this past weekend, and the Wildcats showed their versatility in the process.

On Saturday, ESJ used a small, quick lineup to pressure Patterson into mistakes at the Wildcats captured a 73-59 victory. Then, on Sunday, the Wildcats used their brawn, relying on their big men to capture a 60-47 win over Beau Chene.

East St. John (9-8) was scheduled to play in the tournament championship game on Monday night. Details will be in our next issue.

ESJ Coach Yussef Jasmine says his team’s newfound commitment to ball security has driven ESJ’s current four game winning streak.

“We’re protecting the ball a lot more than we were,” said Jasmine. “We know we’re a good team when we execute, and lately, we’ve been doing that very well.”

Lucas Martin scored 19 and Malcom Lago added 16 as the Wildcats topped Patterson.

The Lumberjacks (10-3) led after a quarter, but ESJ seized control thereafter. The Wildcats built a seven-point halftime lead and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half.

“We took over the game in the second quarter,” said Jasmine, whose team outscored Patterson 21-13 in that frame. “We went back and forth with them for a little while, but we were able to keep the ball away from them within our offense, and still get some uncontested layups.”

Jasmine said that he elected to go with a small lineup to match up better with the Lumberjacks.

“We were able to trap and pressure them. One through five, our guys could get close and limit their guys,” Jasmine said.

But Jasmine wouldn’t forget about his big men in the second game. Center Kelth Cameron scored 15 and forward Anthony Dawson added 11 to push ESJ past Beau Chene (11-7).

The game stayed close to the script of the Wildcats’ first, with ESJ extending a six-point lead into a 34-23 halftime advantage, and keeping the pressure on from there.

“We were able to dominate inside. Kelth was a big presence in the paint,” said Jasmine. “We also subbed a lot. In a tournament like this, you want to keep everyone fresh. We kept a consistent flow.”