Wildcats fall to Higgins but top Patriots, Hawks

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2012



RESERVE — It had to end at some point.

East St. John did not lose a district game in 2010 and was 5-0 in 2011 before Higgins’ rallied to capture a 45-42 victory at ESJ Friday night.

The Hurricanes trailed by eight entering the fourth quarter, but Casey Jones led Higgins (16-8, 3-3) on a 17-3 run to end the game and a 19-8 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter overall.

“He just carried them in the fourth quarter,” said East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine of Jones. “We didn’t hit our defensive rotations on him like we should have.”

Jasmine said the loss, in his mind, came down to not matching Higgins’ intensity in the second half, particuarly after his Wildcats led by as many as 15 before halftime.

“We just kind of stayed at one level. Higgins came out after halftime and raised their intensity level. It made a big difference. We never matched that.”

Jones scored 22 to lead all players.

Joseph Williams scored 13 and Elex Carter scored 10 to lead East St. John (19-6, 5-1).

ESJ defeated Higgins in the previous meeting between the teams by three, on Chester Victor Jr.’s game-winning 3-pointer.

The Wildcats had a successful week overall despite the loss, taking two big wins, one of which came on the road in a district game against Ehret last Tuesday.

The Wildcats led the Patriots 42-41 entering the fourth quarter before pulling toward a 55-49 victory.

Jalen Kenner scored 16 and Williams scored 13.

Kevin Hill led Ehret with 19.

Kenner and Carter each got into foul trouble which hampered ESJ for long stretches, Jasmine said, but in the fourth quarter each was able to return and help direct the victory.

On Saturday, the Wildcats played in a special Hall of Fame exhibition at Southeastern and came away with a 61-57 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas.

Carter scored 18 to lead ESJ. Williams added 15.

Both teams are ranked in the top 10 of their respective classifications. STA is ranked sixth in Class 2A, ESJ eighth in Class 5A.

The Wildcats rallied to win after falling behind 22-9 in the first quarter. ESJ outscored STA 20-9 in the third to key the comeback.

“I was really excited that they invited us to play in this game,” said Jasmine. “Especially after the loss to Higgins … sometimes I feel like we don’t play with as much intensity at home as we do elsewhere. On the road, we play with intensity throughout. And even with this game being at Southeastern … it had a big game feel to it and our guys responded to that.”