ESJ Wildcats top Jesuit, move record to 3-0

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2011



NEW ORLEANS — Expectations are high at East St. John this season, and if the basketball team’s first action of the year is any indication, then Wildcat supporters are in for a major treat.

The Wildcats blew through three games in the Jesuit tournament, winning three games by an average of 35.3 points per game, highlighted by a 66-44 win over the host Blue Jays in ESJ’s final game.

With 11 senior players and a canyon-deep 14 man rotation at his disposal, East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine will not have to scale anything back, to say the least, from last year’s pressure-heavy defense that led the first undefeated district championship run in school history.

Jasmine said that he was excited to see what his team could do in live action, and that his players did not leave him disappointed.

“I was anxious to start, to see how we’d gel. With their experience, I thought we would early,” he said. “They’ve been together for so long … We’re deep, disciplined, and we’ve got guys who know that we’re going to be tested at times. They understand how to attack, but also how to be patient.”

Against Jesuit on Wednesday, Joe Williams led the way for the Wildcats with 15 points. Tra’devin Wilson scored 14 and Emmanuel Victor scored eight.

East St. John led 30-25 at halftime, but blew things open in the third quarter, outscoring Jesuit 21-5.

“At halftime, I looked at our players faces, and really they looked like they were trailing,” Jasmine said. “Just coming off of how well we played in the first two games. But we wore them down. With 14 guys who can come in and play at a high level, we’re never going to get tired.”

He also said that he felt the level of discipline that his team showed might have caught Jesuit off guard — the Blue Jays beat the Wildcats in the Class 5A state playoffs two years ago, but Jasmine’s team has come far since then.

“A lot of people think East St. John, that’s an athletic team that’s going to play hard. But I think Jesuit might have been surprised at our level of execution … not just running up and down and pushing tempo, but the way we ran our sets.”

ESJ’s first win came Monday against St. Stanislaus by a score of 66-38. Wilson led the way with 13. Patrick Washington and Rashad Green each scored 10 for ESJ.

The Wildcats led 23-10 after the first quarter and 43-25 at half. They allowed just 13 second half points.

ESJ’s win over West Jefferson was even more lopsided, 70-20.

Wilson scored 13. Jalen Kenner scored nine and Williams added eight.

The Wildcats led 44-14 at halftime.

Wilson is one of the 11 seniors on the team, but did not play varsity basketball a year ago. Jasmine said that Wilson had a late start to his basketball career, and was just a bit behind the curve because of it last year, which he spent with the junior varsity.

Not so this year, as Wilson leads the team in scoring through three games, the only player to score in double figures in each.

“He’s got a lot of raw talent, and he’s obviously a lot more comfortable and confident switching from offense to defense and playing each set,” Jasmine said. “He’s up to speed and he’s done a real nice job.”

ESJ returns to action Tuesday at home when it hosts Country Day. J.V. tips off at 6 p.m. with the varsity to follow.