St. Augustine outlasts Wildcats

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, December 25, 2012



NEW ORLEANS — East St. John’s bench and fans in attendance exploded into cheers after Monterio Cage’s desperation floater sank to force overtime at St. Augustine.

But the extra frame belonged to the Purple Knights, who outscored ESJ 14-8 in the overtime period to nail down a 69-63 victory at St. Augustine’s Watson Jones Memorial Stadium.

Six-foot-nine-inch forward Craig Victor led the way for St. Augustine with 28 points, 14 of those coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Kelan Chairs scored 18.

“We couldn’t score (in overtime),” said East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine. “They came down and from the start either got a basket or got fouled. We had no offensive flow.”

Six-foot-seven-inch East St. John center Elex Carter fouled out of the game with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter, giving Victor more room to operate in the paint in overtime.

“Elex fouled out, so we knew we had the upper hand inside,” said Victor. “This was a game of runs. The same thing happened to us in our last game (against Scotlandville). We lost because we couldn’t make our free throws. Tonight, we made them.”

St. Augustine made 10 of their 12 free throw attempts in overtime.

East St. John (8-5) was playing without two of its starters due to injury in Edwin Winston and Troy Green.

Cage’s runner to force overtime came after a wild sequence: St. Augustine led 55-53 and had the ball with 30 seconds left when Jhyron Jackson came up with a steal; the Wildcats frantically looked for a shot but St. Augustine challenged everything, finally prompting Cage to loft up an arcing runner just before time expired.

East St. John (7-5) trailed 41-35 to begin the fourth quarter and trailed through the entirety of the fourth quarter.

Kyle Patterson scored a team-high 21 points for the Wildcats. He put East St. John’s offense on his back as it rallied in the fourth — Patterson made a layup off a Cage steal, igniting a run where Patterson scored the next 14 East St. John points, up until Cage broke the string with his game-tying shot.

“I had to put the team on my back. I had to,” said Patterson. “(Carter) was in foul trouble. Coach told me that we had them in the double bonus, so attack the basket and keep attacking.”

Much like in its victory against Zachary last week, East St. John began the game in zone, then made a run after changing things up to a man-to-man press. The zone gave St. Augustine fits in the first half — the Wildcats held the Knights to just eight first quarter points and led 20-12 at one point before taking a 25-21 lead into halftime.

But when Victor gave St. Augustine a 34-33 lead on a putback and free throw, it ignited a 10-2 run to close the third quarter. That gave ESJ the impetus to switch defensive strategy.

“We knew that they’d have to come out in man once we got the lead. They could just sit back in zone if they were ahead,” said Victor.

The press gave St. Augustine fits. ESJ scored four buckets in transition off of steals before another set up Cage’s shot.

“We thought we could get to their guards and force some mistakes,” said Patterson.

But in overtime, and without Carter, St. Augustine was able to assert its size advantage without the zone clogging the lane. Victor got to the line to put in two free throws to begin overtime. Bryce Beacham did the same, then Blake Jones and Chairs sank jumpers to all but put things away.

“Against man, we can get it inside. And if we can pound it inside, I have to like our chances,” said St. Augustine coach Mitchell Johnson.

Tre’Von Jasmine finished with 13 points for East St. John. Raekwon McKnight added nine for the Wildcats.