Rams surge past ‘Dogs

Published 11:45 pm Friday, January 25, 2013



EDGARD — West St. John coach LaVonta Davis put things plainly to his team at halftime as it stood tied with visiting Ascension Catholic, 24-24.

“I told them it was time to make a decision on the way they want their season to go,” said Davis.

The Rams responded to his challenge, outscoring the Bulldogs 36-24 in the second half to capture a 60-48 District 9-1A victory at home.

Ascension Catholic (5-16, 0-4) trailed 33-30 with 2:30 left in the third quarter, when West St. John went on a 17-2 run to all but cement is third district win, keeping the Rams alive in the district championship hunt and the playoff picture.

“We picked it up on defense,” said the Rams’ Jordan Hamilton, who led WSJ with a team-high 19 points. “We switched some things around, but the biggest thing was we played with more heart.”

Behind Hamilton’s 19, Morell Bartholomew scored 13. Demond Pierce scored 14 and Olajuwon Pierre added 11.

It was an important win for West St. John (5-9, 3-2) coming off of a tough loss at White Castle, 64-48 last week. WSJ remained one game behind White Castle and two back of East Iberville in the district race entering Friday’s home game against East Iberville, which was played after press time.

One of the biggest adjustments the Rams made was limiting the production of explosive Bulldogs’ freshman Kaleb Winchester. The guard scored 13 first half points, but was held scoreless in the third quarter; his 10 fourth quarter points came with the game’s result essentially decided.

“We did a good job bringing the help,” said Hamilton. “We started forcing turnovers and that got us going.”

Davis echoed those comments.

“That was our focus. At halftime, we assessed who was hurting us in the first half. From there, we went back out, played good helpside defense and made other guys try to beat us.”

Cleveland Fefie added 11 for the Bulldogs.

The Rams pounded the boards in the first quarter, Pierre making an impact on the offensive glass with a pair of putbacks on his way to six first quarter points. WSJ led 13-7 after the first period.

Hamilton scored four consecutive Rams points to lift WSJ to a 19-11 lead. But Winchester began to heat up, first sinking a free throw, then a jumper. He hit two of three at the line after drawing a foul on a 3-point attempt to make it 22-17. Fefie canned a 3-pointer to draw Ascension Catholic within two.

Bartholomew banked in a shot to push WSJ ahead by four, but two straight Winchester scores, the second on a n impressive drive and finish in the lane, tied things up just before halftime.

“He kept us in it,” said Ascension Catholic coach Reginald Brown. “He wreaked havoc on their defense at times.”

WSJ scored five quick points to begin the second half on a basket by Pierce and a 3 from Pierre. Tandym Wells answered with a 3 from the wing to make it 29-27.

But with the Rams ahead 33-30 late in the third, it didn’t take long from there for WSJ to create some comfortable distance. Pierre pulled up for a 3 to make it 36-30. Pierce leaked out for a transition layup, then Bartholomew did the same to all of a sudden make it a 10-point advantage. Bartholomew’s runner made it 12.

The story was the same early in the fourth. Pierre hit another 3, then Jalen Echols scored inside and drew a foul. His 3-point play made it 48-32. A Hamilton drive and shot in the lane made it an 18-point game with just under six minutes left, and Ascension Catholic never drew closer than 12 the rest of the way.

“I think my kids ran out of gas a little bit,” said Brown. “(West St. John) is a little bigger, a little more physical, and they play well around the basket.”

Davis said that sound defensive play was at the heart of the Rams’ victory.

“We finally settled down and played good halfcourt defense,” said Davis. “We limited them to one shot, and off of that we could get out and run to create some transition offense.”