Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 20, 2010



EDGARD – Entering this week, the 2009-10 West St. John Lady Rams had already cemented their spot in school history after nailing down a share of the program’s first ever district championship.

On Thursday night, they further highlighted their names in the school’s record book.

Led by freshman Jaylyn Gordon’s career-high 34 points, the Rams toppled Hamilton Christian, 60-47, in a Class 1A playoff game at West St. John to secure the girls team’s first ever postseason victory.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time here. It feels great,” said longtime Rams coach Lester Smith.

It was the first playoff game that West St. John had hosted since 1997. The Rams earned that right with a 17-win regular season — a team record.

“It was really exciting,” said Gordon. “We had probably the most fans we’ve had all season out tonight. It pumps you up to hear those people behind you.”

The No. 11 seeded Rams (18-8) will travel to face No. 6 Oberlin in the regional round. The date was not announced as of presstime.

Kyla Morris scored 12 points for the Rams. Jasmine Young added eight.

Raven Pappion scored 22 to lead the Warriors. Emmeline Richard dropped in 11.

Pappion, Hamilton Christian’s point guard and leading scorer, did all she could to keep her team afloat. She scored her team’s first six points on a pair of layups and a jumper. West St. John, conversely, rode Kyla Morris in the early goings. Morris scored six of her team’s first eight points, and neither team led by more than three in the first quarter.

West St. John began to create some separation late in the first half. Gordon canned a 3-pointer from the wing to increase a two-point Rams lead to 24-19 with 2:58 left in the half. 40 seconds later, it was an eight-point lead when she launched another from the top of the circle and banked it in off the glass. Gordon tallied 20 first half points and West St. John led 29-21 at halftime.

Gordon missed her first few 3-point attempts but adjusted quickly.

“I started off pretty badly,” she said. “But I just upped my energy. I knew we had to win.”

Hamilton Christian fought back in the third quarter. After trailing 35-27, the Warriors (10-11) climbed to within four after two free throws and a transition layup by Pappion. Compounding matters for the Rams was that Morris had to leave the game in the middle of the quarter due to foul trouble.

But instead of wilting, the Rams forged ahead. Renea Julien got to the foul line and made two free throws. Ditto Talar Lewis a possession later to make it 39-31. The Rams were attacking the basket with great success.

“At halftime, the coaches told us to loosen up,” said Young. “The fans came out tonight to support us, and we wanted to send them home with a win.”

Gordon finished the quarter with a flurry that all but put the game out of reach. She stole the ball then dished to Young for a layup to make it 45-36. She immediately nabbed another steal and converted a layup with a foul to push the lead to 11. She converted the free throw. She put a cap on the third with a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 51-38.

The Rams led by double digits the rest of the way.

“Our goals were to have a winning season, to win district for the first time, and to get to the playoffs and win,” said Smith. We’ve now done all of that.”

Said Young: “It’s great to be a part of the first team to do it.”