Ladycats reach final at Hammond tourney

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 5, 2009



East St. John secured a berth in the finals of the Hammond tournament last night with wins over Fontainebleau and Hammond in each of the first two rounds.

The Wildcats knocked off Fontainebleau 56-48 in the first round, then dominated en route to a 63-16 win over host Hammond in the next.

East St. John led 39-38 after three quarters, but pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks it its defensive play, says Wildcats coach Jackson Manuel.

“Defensively, we fought back and it allowed us to keep things tight until we pulled out ahead in the fourth,” he said. “After that, we spread the floor and got them to start fouling us.”

Wanisha Creecy continued her strong scoring of late, generating 14 to lead the Ladycats. Korielle Tucker scored 12 and Brianne Brown scored 10.

Manuel said that while ESJ finished strong, he wasn’t happy at all with how the game began.

“We were sluggish. In the first quarter we missed 17 unchallenged layups. It was like we were sleepwalking,” he said. “I can’t explain it, but it was real ugly on our behalf.”

A poor start, however, wasn’t an issue against Hammond on Thursday night – though relative to the second half, it was just that. ESJ led 24-11 at halftime, but had a dominating 39-5 scoring advantage in the second half to advance to the final game.

Kanitra Lee scored 20 and Creecy added 15.

“We played a ‘jump’ defense and it really got them out of sync,” said Manuel. “We forced a heap of turnovers. And we made most of our layups, though missed too many for comfort – I really thought if we made those against Fontainebleau, it could have been a repeat performance.”

Manuel also praised his team’s execution of its offense.

“At times, we executed it just like it was drawn on paper,” he said.

EAST ST. JOHN 77, ISTROUMA 32 – Tucker scored 19 and Creecy added 11 as East St. John had little trouble dispatching Istrouma on Tuesday.

The Ladycats led by 10 after a quarter and 24 at halftime en route to an easy win.

So far this season, ESJ has gotten strong scoring contributions from a multitude of players, most notably Creecy, Lee, Brown and Tucker.

Manuel hopes that the four will learn to play at close to peak level each game, noting how each has shown what she is capable of at different points.

“When we get to a point where all of them are consistent, where we know what we’re getting every single night, it’ll be a real strong sign for us,” Manuel said.