Ladycats toppled by Thibodaux

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 12, 2009



RESERVE — East St. John’s girls basketball team pushed through a sluggish offensive start, but couldn’t survive a barrage of late turnovers and missed shots as Thibodaux emerged with a 42-34 victory at ESJ.

“This is a tough place to play,” said Thibodaux coach Damon Robinson. “ESJ’s got a good team. We were lucky to come out with a win.”

Both teams struggled in the first half, but East St. John (6-6) led 15-12 at halftime – Jhavon Lillie’s 3-pointer as time was running down in the first half cut a six point ESJ lead in half.

“We made some mistakes at the end of the first half that put them back in the game,” said ESJ coach Jackson Manuel.

Keyvin Parker’s putback in the third quarter put ESJ ahead 23-20, but then the Tigers started making a move. The Wildcats’ Kanitra Lee answered two Thibodaux free throws with a driving layup, but the Tigers shot back with a quick 8-0 run to take control – a bucket by Lauren McMillan preceded back-to-back 3-pointers by Darachia Johnson from each wing.

That put Thibodaux (5-3) up 30-25 with 6:38 left in the game.

Brianne Brown hit a jumper to pull ESJ within three, but Phylashon Price and Johnson converted baskets to give Thibodaux its biggest lead of the night, 34-27.

Lee nailed a jumper and Korielle Tucker put down a foul shot to make it 34-30.

But it was as close as the wildcats would come. Thibodaux scored the next eight points of the game to push its advantage to 12, capping the run off with a Johnson put-back.

“It was a lack of execution. We turned it over, and we missed easy shots,” said Manuel.

Robinson said that ESJ’s commitment to taking Lillie, Thibodaux’s leading scorer, out of the game offensively led to his team’s poor start.

But the Tigers adjusted after that.

“They weren’t going to let her shoot. They took her away, and I think the rest of them kind of panicked,” said Robinson. “We settled down.”

Lillie finished with seven points. Johnson led Thibodaux with 17 points.

Lee led the Wildcats with 10. Wanisha Creecy scored nine and Tucker added six.

The game followed a ceremony in which the late Troy Giordano (see lead story) was honored.

Manuel said some jitters might have contributed to the team’s early offensive woes.

“We didn’t pull the trigger on some shots that we usually take,” said Manuel. “Nerves might have attributed to it somewhat. It was a very emotional night for everyone.”