Rams clinch district title
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 8, 2012
By RYAN ARENA
EDGARD — With just two points scored through almost four minutes of play, it was a relatively slow start for West St. John in its District 9-1A matchup with St. John-Plaquemine.
But when the Lady Rams finally hit the accelerator, it touched the floor.
West St. John led by just a single point after a quarter of play but outscored the Eagles 29-3 in the second quarter to leave no doubt to the outcome, eventually emerging with a 71-41 victory.
Maya Trench scored 26, Jaylyn Gordon scored 19 and Donasia Bell scored nine to lead West St. John.
The win clinched a second district championship in three years for a Rams program that had never won one prior to 2009. That championship was a split title; these Rams can do no worse than that and were one win away from their first outright crown and two away from posting the first undefeated district mark in school history.
“Our goal is to be the first team in school history to finish undefeated in district,” said Bell. “We’re working hard to get there, every single day in practice.”
Jessie Brown scored 16 to lead St. John. Shelbi Strickland added eight.
It was the 14th straight win for the Rams, who are now 21-4 overall and 8-0 in district play.
West St. John put things away in the second quarter, but it got its offense on track late in the first quarter on the back of Bell, who converted two shots inside and a long jumper, scoring six of WSJ’s final eight points in the opening frame. WSJ led just 16-15 though, as St. John was able to get out in transition and convert a number of easy buckets.
That changed in the second quarter. The Rams adjusted their defense and allowed just one more field goal before halftime, one that came in the final minute of the half.
“They were releasing their guards immediately off of our 3-point shots and getting it to them down the court. We didn’t get back (in the first quarter),” said West St. John coach Lester Smith. “We made that adjustment going into the second.”
Said Bell, “We weren’t playing our game early. But from the second on, we went out and played our game.”
It was more than enough of an effort for the Rams to blow things open, their offense rolling by this point. Jajuan Nicholas scored on a layup and Trench hit a 3-pointer to push West St. John’s lead to 21-15. Nicholas converted a free throw, then Deja Feist scored off of an assist from Gordon to push the lead to nine as the Rams continued to push the ball in transition, by this point forcing turnovers at will.
“That’s how we have to play. We need to run,” said Smith. “That’s the way we have to play to win games.”
Two Gordon free throws made it 11, and a Trench layup pushed it to 28-15. Feist’s short jumper made it 30-16, then Trench canned another 3-pointer. Gordon scored in transition off of an offensive rebound and drew a foul. She converted the free throw to make it a 20-point Rams’ lead.
To cap the whirlwind quarter, Bell hit a 3-pointer, essentially the icing on the cake on a district championship. West St. John led St. John (7-16, 2-6) 71-32 after three quarters and emptied its bench in the fourth.
Gordon was a starter as an eighth grader on the 2009 district champion. She said that this run has been extra special due to the potential of going 10-0.
“It brings a lot of energy every day, just around school. People are excited,” said Gordon. “That we’re undefeated this time, it adds to it. We’ve got five or six people scoring every night. Everyone is doing a good job offensively.”