Ladycats trump Tarpons

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2010



RESERVE- It was an emotional night for the East St. John Ladycats, and it showed early on – uncharacteristic turnovers and missed opportunities screamed of a team working out substantial jitters.

Its game against South Lafourche on Tuesday came on the night that its gym was officially dedicated to longtime coach Troy Giordano, who passed away in an automobile accident last May (See story on page 1A).

But East St. John settled down in the second half, and pulled away in the fourth quarter to cruise to a 52-34 victory over the Tarpons.

“There was a tremendous amount of emotion,” said East St. John coach Jackson Manuel. “We’re honoring a River

Parishes legend tonight. To be able to come in, play well and get a win over a solid team is a big feather in our cap tonight.”

The Wildcats (14-8) have caught fire after a slow start and are 7-1 in their last eight games.

South Lafourche (12-8) led late in each of the first two quarters, but late ESJ surges lifted the Wildcats to leads at the end of each, including a 21-17 mark at halftime.

Still, the Wildcats were struggling to take advantage of opportunities they generated – ESJ’s pressure was forcing turnovers, but the team was giving the ball back via turnovers in transition.

That changed in the second half. ESJ came out more patient offensively, and it showed in the results.

Wanisha Creecy scored the first three points of the half quickly on a foulshot, steal and layup. Then Phallon Schnyder made a pair of turnaround jumpers, and that quick 7-0 run made it 28-17 with 5:11 left in the third quarter.

“That’s where the focus has been in the past few games,” said Manuel. “Limiting turnovers, playing mistake free basketball. It’s been getting better little by little. (In the second half) it was a lot better tonight.”

South Lafourche battled right back with an 8-o run of its own, starting with a putback by Heather Badeaux. A layup by Simone Guidry made it 28-21, and Rebecca Pitre made two free throws then capped the run with a driving layup to cut the lead to three.

Korielle Tucker ended the quarter with a putback for the Wildcats to lift the lead to five at the end of the third quarter.

From there, the Wildcats pushed the lead higher. Two Creecy free throws made it 34-27. A drive and score by Kanitra Lee became a 3-point play when she was fouled, extending the lead to 37-27. She’d drive again to score and answer two Andrea Bruner free throws.

“We spread the floor and we got some wide open layups off that,” said Lee.

The Tarpons would never get within single digits again.

Lee led ESJ with 14 points. Creecy scored 12 and Tucker added 11.

Pitre led South Lafourche with 10.

For the Wildcat players, the win was important – if for no other reason, because it was the way one man simply would have wanted it.

“(Coach Troy) always felt we should win our home games,” said Lee. “Tonight, dedicating the gym, getting the win was very important to us.”