St. James sees run end in quarters

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 2, 2009


Sports Editor

This season, the St. James girls basketball team advanced deeper in the postseason than it ever had before. But a heartbreaking loss ended the Wildcats’ ride on Thursday night.

Despite 30 points from St. James’ Brandi Jeffery, No. 2 seeded South Beauregard ousted No. 7 St. James, 61-60, in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state playoffs.

South Beauregard (34-2) led by four late in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats’ Sharis Steib nailed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. St. James immediately fouled, and South Beauregard missed the front end of a one-and-one.

But St. James (29-10) couldn’t convert on its final possession, and the Knights moved on.

“I think we had a pretty doggone good year,” said St. James coach Amy Blanchard. “We had a chance there at the end. But you look back, and it’s the little things here and there that get you.”

The Knights will move on to face No. 6 seeded St. Thomas Aquinas in the state semifinals.

St. James hit eight 3-pointers in the game,.

Jeffery hit four of those in the first quarter alone, helping St. James to a 23-22 lead.

South Beauregard fir-ed back in the second quarter to take a 38-34 lead into the half. But St. James rallied to go ahead by one after three quarters, 48-47.

“It was back and forth all night long,” said Blanchard.

Forward Jenna Diakos scored 25 to lead the Knights. Teammate Stephanie Barrow added 19.

Blanchard said that while her team’s guards were able to get into the lane to gave South Beauregard trouble, the Wildcats had no response for Diakos and the other South Beauregard post players.

“It was really the difference. They had really good post play, and we didn’t have an answer,” said Blanchard. “They were able to get us into foul trouble. And in a game like that, when you’ve got your leading scorers sitting out for a minute or two here and there, it makes it tough.”

Markeisha Keller scored 15 for St. James.

“For the longest time, we couldn’t get over the hump in the second round,” said Blanchard. “We’re losing five seniors from this team, and they’ll be very hard to replace. But we’ve got a pretty good group coming back, too.”

ST. JAMES 104, VILLE PLATTE 67 — Jeffery scored a career-high 40 points as the Wildcats toppled No. 10 seeded Ville Platte in the regional round.

The Wildcats led 31-13 after the first quarter, and led by as many as 30 points during the game.

“The 104 point number really blew us away,” said Blanchard. “We just felt like we had to keep scoring. That team scored 70 points per game coming in. They are capable of scoring so quickly, so we didn’t want to let up.”

Blanchard said Jeffery’s career night came down to focus.

“She’s been willing to do whatever it takes to get us to the next level. And she’s done a great job of it,” she said.