Wildcats fall but push Westchester to brink

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2011



METAIRIE – East St. John led powerhouse Westchester of Los Angeles by one with under a minute remaining Thursday, but a pair of late turnovers doomed the Wildcats in a 60-58 loss in a first round Sugar Bowl Prep Classic game at Country Day.

“Too many costly turnovers,” said East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine. “We talked in the locker room at half about how we value every possession. We did that and got back into it. But then at the end, we have two in 40 seconds. And that was the difference.”

The Wildcats erased an 13-point fourth quarter Westchester lead to take a 54-53 lead with under two minutes remaining, the go-ahead points coming off of an inside move by Joe Williams.

Keywhon Powns answered by hitting a floater with 1:52 left to put Westchester back up 55-54.

LeBaron Sylvester lifted the Wildcats back into the lead via two free throws, but ESJ fouled Joshua Wilson at the other end. He’d miss both foul shots, but Westchester rebounded and Wilson made good on a second chance, laying the ball in off a scramble.

East St. John’s chance to answer fell short when Westchester came away with a steal with 22.5 seconds left. Powns made one-of-two free throws, and the Wildcats had one more chance – but a similar result occurred when again, Westchester stole the ball away with 6.8 seconds left. This time Wilson, who was fouled, made both shots and put things out of reach.

The Wildcats trailed 51-38 early in the fourth quarter, but a major run pulled them back into things. ESJ went on a 14-0 run to give themselves a 52-51 lead, the final basket coming on a Marcus Robinson bucket off of a Sylvester steal and assist. Sylvester, Williams and Chester Victor also made buckets during the run.

“We just kept pushing and played hard. At the end, they made a good play,” said Williams.

It was the second large deficit ESJ had erased on the day, as it fell behind by nine in the first quarter and closed to within one by half on Elix Carter’s layup late in the second quarter.

“They shot so well,” said Jasmine of Westchester. “We fought to get back in it against a good team. But once again, we’ve got to learn that you can’t make these mistakes against a good team .”