Lee leads ESJ past DHS
Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2012
By RYAN ARENA
RESERVE – The sensational effort put forth by East St. John’s Kanitra Lee added a crucial ingredient to her team’s 41-35 victory over District 8-5A rival Destrehan Tuesday. But to the senior point guard’s head coach, her performance represented something greater to their team’s hopes as the postseason looms.
“If Kanitra plays like this, and I mean every night going forward, then we’ll get to the playoffs. And we’ll be a little dangerous,” said East St. John coach Jackson Manuel.
Lee scored 19 points in the win and flashed her versatility in doing so. ESJ often worked the ball to Lee down in the post area, where she used her size advantage on Destrehan’s guards.
“They got me the ball inside tonight because they wanted to take advantage of my strength,” said Lee. “It’s fun. I like to play a complete game like that.”
Brishane Haynes and Kemyra Arvie each scored six for East St. John.
Jordan Dabney scored 13 to lead Destrehan. But unlike the first game, where Dabney got loose in the second half to help her team pull away, East St. John (13-14, 3-4) minimized her impact by, employing a “box-and-one” to shadow her.
“We call it our leopard defense, because we say we’re gonna put a spot on someone tonight,” said Manuel. “Our players played a smart game.
“They made them pass east and west and didn’t take unnecessary risks.”
Neither team scored in the first four minutes of the game, and East St. John led 5-0 after the first quarter. The teams were tied 12-12 at halftime.
Lee began the fourth quarter by drawing a foul on a drive and hit two free throws to put ESJ up 27-26. Destrehan (17-11, 4-3) tied the game, but Haynes answered with two free throws, and teammate Bria Joseph pushed East St. John’s lead to four after a leaping steal and then layup.
Da’Rae Taylor made two more free throws to make it 33-27 in ESJ’s favor.
Arvie poked a pass into Simmons’ hands to end DHS’ next possession, and ESJ forced misses by Armani Lee and Dabney on the following pair.
Lee found Arvie underneath for a score to put ESJ ahead 35-27; after another ESJ steal, Lee scored herself to make it a 10-point advantage with less than two minutes left.
Armani Lee and Dabney scored a pair of quick baskets, the latter coming off of a stolen inbounds pass, to give DHS life with 1:35 left. But that was as close as they’d come.
“We came out ready to play,” said Kanitra Lee. “It’s a step to the playoffs. We did what we had to do tonight.”
Destrehan is in third place in District 8-5A, a game ahead of fourth place East St. John. Hahnville leads the district with a 7-0 district record; John Ehret is in second at 5-2.