Defense leads ESJ past Desty
Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2012
By RYAN ARENA
RESERVE — East St. John’s offensive attack wasn’t at all at its peak Tuesday night as it hosted Destrehan. But coach Yussef Jasmine’s team showed that in times of greatest need, it indeed has a trump card to fall back on: a suffocating, airtight defense.
ESJ held Destrehan to just three fourth quarter points as it came away with a 44-39 victory in Reserve to remain alone in first place in District 8-5A.
Patrick Washington scored 12 points to lead East St. John (18-5, 6-1). Joseph Williams scored 10, Tra’Devin Wilson scored eight and Elex Carter scored six.
For Destrehan (17-11, 2-5), B.J. Singleton scored a game-high 15. Gary Johnson added 10 and Kevin Smith scored six.
Williams, East St. John’s leading scorer, was held scoreless in the first half as Destrehan came in intent on making others carry the load.
“They used a box and one and it made it hard for me to score,” said Williams. “Patrick really picked it up and got us going … It’s a big win. We stay in that first spot in district, and we defended our home court.”
East St. John scored what ended up being a deciding cluster of baskets early in the fourth quarter.
Destrehan took a 38-34 lead but East St. John tied on a pair of jumpers by Carter, the first from 15 feet and the second a bit deeper, that coming with 5:33 left to play.
“Those two shots really hurt us,” said Destrehan coach Todd Bourg. “That’s not a shot he generally takes, really something that as a defense you’ll give them, and he makes two straight when we were up four.”
Wilson gave ESJ a two-point lead on a put back, making it 40-38.
Then came a drought on both sides that lasted until a minute remained. A Johnson’s three that would have given DHS a lead wouldn’t fall with 1:50 left.
East St. John was able to run down the clock inside of a minute, but after Washington fed Wilson inside, Wilson’s pass to Carter sailed between his legs and out of bounds, denying ESJ a chance at a layup or trip to the line and giving DHS another chance to tie or take the lead.
Smith was fouled and made one of two free throws with 43 seconds left. Destrehan went for a steal but had to foul and Williams went to the line, sinking two free throws to give ESJ a 42-39 lead.
Destrehan had a chance to tie in the waning moments, its final possession coming down to a Smith 3-point attempt. The shot was on line, but hit back rim with 2.9 seconds left and went out of bounds. East St. John inbounded and hit Williams downcourt on a “home run” pass for the final score.
“We know we can play defense, but we have to play better offensively,” Jasmine said. “I think our guys sometimes don’t understand that when we ask to push the tempo, that doesn’t just mean in transition. If we run our sets quicker in halfcourt, for instance, we can get the shot that we want at the pace that we want.”
Bourg pointed to Destrehan’s turnover count and a number of missed 3-point attempts as key factors.
“We turned it over 24 times, which as we told our kids, that’s 24 possessions where you don’t even get a shot off,” he said. “If we score on two of those, we’re up one at the end instead of down three.
“Credit East St. John. Turnovers come against that kind of full court pressure. This was a game between two good teams that’ll be in the playoffs.”