Patriots upend ‘Catsat N.O. Arena

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2010



NEW ORLEANS – In a special matinee game at the New Orleans Arena on Wednesday, John Ehret toppled East St. John, 77-64.

The Patriots’ O.C. Tart scored a game high 26, combining with Elfrid Payton (20 points) to lead their team to the win.

“The biggest thing was, at the half, we came out focused on getting stops,” said Ehret coach Allen Collins. “We started doing what we practiced.”

Patrick Washington led East St. John with 18 points. D’haquille Williams scored 11 for the Wildcats.

The teams played a back and forth first half, but Ehret upped their defensive intensity in the third quarter to build an 11-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, a margin too steep for the Wildcats to overcome.

“Their execution went up, ours went down,” said East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine. “Offensively and defensively, that was the case. That’s how good teams win games. We need to get to a point where we don’t allow that to happen.”

At first though, it appeared ESJ might steal the momentum early in the second half. Ehret held a lead throughout the first half, staving off ESJ each time the Wildcats appeared primed to take a lead.

But East St. John cut a five point Ehret (8-1) lead to one, 28-27, at the end of the first half on a 3 from the wing by Marcus Robinson and a free throw by Williams. Joseph Williams made a free throw to begin the second half and tie things for ESJ (4-6). The teams traded buckets, then D’haquille Williams made a move and bucket inside to give ESJ a 32-30 lead. Washington lifted ESJ back into the lead, 34-32, after Ehret tied things.

“From the first quarter into the second, it took us awhile to find our offense,” said Collins. “The Arena, the atmosphere, it took a little while to get used to.

“But we settled down.”

But that’s when Tart went to work. He made a basket underneath off of a steal to put Ehret back ahead. He’d score again to make it a four-point advantage, then scored again in transition off of another ESJ turnover.

The Wildcats fought back behind a bucket and foul shot by Chester Victor, Jr. But Tart fired back with another bucket to make it a 3-point game.

Payton got in on the action by converting a 3-point play of his own to extend the lead to six. The teams exchanged baskets – an Ehret 3-point play against a two for ESJ – before Tart’s floater made it 48-39.

Jalen Kenner cut the lead to seven on a play in which he darted into the lane and scored, but it was as close as ESJ would get the rest of the afternoon. The Patriots would lead by as many as 17, thanks to a 13-3 run to begin the fourth quarter.

Jasmine said that playing the game in the Arena was “initially a shock” to his players given the difference in surroundings and atmosphere, but that things settled down as the game went on.

“The kids were real excited to be there,” said Jasmine.