St. James nails down Class 3A state championship

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2011

For the first time in school history, the St. James girls’ basketball team can call themselves state champions.

The Wildcats clinched the Class 3A state championship Saturday night, 61-49 winners over Avoyelles at Southeastern’s University Center.

Brandi Jeffery was named the game’s Outstanding Player on a night in which she scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. She made three steals and had three assists in 28 minutes.

“It’s a blessing,” said Jeffery of the win. “We’ve gone down in school history.”

Said Duronslet: “Now our kids and grandkids can look at this and say, ‘Look what Grandma did!’”

Both teams dealt with adversity on the night. Avoyelles lost frontcourt star India Marks to an injury early in the first half, while St. James had to compensate for foul trouble all night – all three of the team’s seniors, Jeffery, Anika Duronslet and Markeisha Keller, had four fouls or fouled out by game’s end.

St. James again won on the back of some wicked full court pressure, forcing 30 Avoyelles turnovers.

Duronslet and Keller each scored 10 points for St. James. Dasha Adams had seven steals. Nine different Wildcat players scored.

“They’re the sweetest words I’ve ever heard,” said St. James coach Justin Adams when asked what the phrase “state champions” meant to him. “Not just as the coach of a team, but for our community … I’m proud to wear black and gold.”