Gordon scores 35 on Rams’ Senior Night

Published 11:45 pm Friday, February 8, 2013



EDGARD — West St. John coach Lester Smith had a feeling Jaylyn Gordon was set for a big performance on her Senior Night. His star guard didn’t disappoint.

Gordon sank five 3-pointers en route to her game-high 35 points to keep her top-ranked Rams unbeaten in District 9-1A, 63-56 victors over visiting White Castle.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling,” said Gordon, alluding to the night being her last regular season home game in her home gym. “But it feels good to help lead us to a win tonight.”

The Rams remain the top-ranked team in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A poll, and the Rams (26-1, 9-0) have won 13 consecutive games.

“I knew she’d come up big on senior night,” said Smith of Gordon’s heroics. “I wanted to see her really get going, so everyone here could come out and appreciate all she’s done at West St. John.”

With the victory, West St. John clinched its district championship for the third straight season, and the outright crown for the second consecutive year.

Gordon’s 35 points were necessary on a night where the Rams trailed 30-28 at halftime, only the second time all season that the Rams have faced a deficit at the break — the first came in the team’s lone loss to Warren Easton.

West St. John led 22-14 early in the second quarter when White Castle (15-13, 6-3) began to make their move on the backs of twin sisters Shylar and Skyler O’Bear, each canning a 3 on consecutive possessions to quickly cut the Rams lead to two.

Shylar O’Bear tied things up on a pull-up jumper with 5:30 left in the first half. Then Erica Jones established herself in the post, converting a pair of hook shots to make it a 26-22 White Castle lead. Shylar O’Bear made another layup in transition to cap a 14-1 run and give the Bulldogs a 28-23 lead.

Through the run, Smith said he resisted the urge to call a timeout because he wanted to see how his players responded to adversity — something the Rams have seen little of through a season of dominant play.

“I wanted them to recognize the mistakes and correct them,” said Smith. “It was a chance to see them respond to that kind of push by another team and fight through it.”

The response came largely on the defensive end in a third quarter that saw WSJ limit White Castle to just eight points. Jujuan Nicholas and Gordon tied the game at 30 and 32 with respective layups, and Deja Feist made a basket and a free throw to put the Rams ahead by three. Another Feist basket made it 37-34, then Gordon sank two free throws to extend the lead to five; Gordon’s fifth 3 of the game gave her team a 42-34 lead.

The Rams largely were able to take away the Bulldogs’ fast break opportunities, after a few leakouts victimized WSJ in the first half.

“At halftime, I said we needed to get back down there on defense,” said Gordon. “We needed to take that away.”

A 9-0 run to begin the fourth extended WSJ’s lead to 53-38, but White Castle fought back — the O’Bear sisters combined to score seven straight of their own, a Skylar O’Bear 3 making it 56-49 with 3:10 remaining in regulation.

“They were forcing turnovers and we just couldn’t score. And each time we did turn it over, they scored points off of it,” said White Castle coach Tammy Pierce.

But the Bulldogs were dealt a serious blow 14 seconds later when Jones fouled out after scoring 19 points.

From there, the Rams closed things out. Maya Trench sank a free throw, then Gordon scored in the post after Trench rebounded her own miss. Shylar O’Bear missed a 3 with 2:28 left. Gordon went down to the post again and drew a foul, and her two free throws all but put things away, the Rams ahead 61-49 with 2:01 left.

Pierce said the success Gordon had early on made her switch Shylar O’Bear, her best defensive guard, onto her. But the bigger Gordon was able to take advantage of the switch inside — a summary of the matchup issues the All-State guard causes offensively.

“We know Gordon can antagonize any defensive player. We went with our best, but it was a tough matchup for Shylar because of her size,” said Pierce.

The atmosphere was charged for the game, with the WSJ gym packed and its band performing.

“Inexperience on our part played a role,” said Pierce. “The crowd was a factor.”

Gordon said she couldn’t have imagined such a scene at a home game when she started her Lady Ram career as an 8th grader.

But she and her teammates have turned West St. John into a basketball hotspot.

“We’ve never had anything like this,” said Gordon, gesturing toward the crowd. “Everyone is into it. It’s like football season all over again.”