Second half heroics by ESJ’s Thomas too much for Hahnville

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Sports Editor

Trailing by 12 at Hahnville on Friday night, East St. John faced the prospect of falling to 2-4 in District 6-5A — all but a death knell for not only its chances in district, but possibly its playoff chances.

Instead, Mechel’le Thomas willed her team to victory one more time.

The Wildcats’ senior scored 25 of her game-high 30 points in the second half, driving her team to a 60-57 victory.

“The sad thing is, sometimes I feel sorry for her,” said East St. John coach Troy Giordano. “To watch a kid like this try so hard to win a game, that’s mentally and physically exhausted when it’s over, and we don’t pull it out. But (on Friday), she just wouldn’t let us lose.”

With East St. John (22-11, 3-3) trailing by two with two minutes left, Bria Joseph nailed a 3-pointer to put East St. John ahead by one. Hahnville answered with a bucket at the other end, but Thomas hit a three of her own to give ESJ a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“We had to have this game,” said Giordano. “The way I looked at it, I thought we had to win two of our last five at minimum, and we’ve got a tough schedule. This was a must for us.”

Thomas also notched seven steals and five assists. She made four of her five 3-pointers in the second half.

Korielle Tucker scored eight of her 10 points in the second half as well. She also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Jasmine Hill led Hahnville (13-16, 1-5) with 20 points.

East St. John’s offense struggled mightily in the first half, and Hahnville built a 26-14 halftime lead.

“I thought we were sluggish and lazy early,” Giordano said. “We played with no emotion, and they had all the momentum. The only positive that I could tell my team at halftime was that we couldn’t have played any worse in the first half, but we were only down 12.”

Hahnville led by as many as 14 in the third quarter. But as cold as East St. John was in the first half, its fortunes reversed in the second half — ESJ scored 46 second half points behind hot perimeter shooting and transition baskets generated by the Ladycats’ defense.

“We were a lot more aggressive in the second half, especially defensively,” said Giordano. “I thought if we tied it, we’d win. They’ve got a young team, just like we do. A comeback like that is demoralizing.

“And Mechel’le’s like a shark…once she smells that blood in the water, she’s attacking. She’s going to finish you off.”