Crusaders hand ESJ 1st loss at Godchaux

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013


LAPLACE – For the first time since making it their temporary home last season, East St. John was defeated at Leon Godchaux Jr. High gymnasium.
Jordan Cornish scored 24 points while Drew Lewis added 18 to lead the way for Brother Martin en route to a 72-68 victory over the Wildcats in a battle of two of the New Orleans metro area’s upper echelon teams.
“It’s a really, really good win for us,” said Brother Martin coach Chris Biehl. “The knock on us was that we haven’t really had that good win into  someone else’s building this season until tonight.’
“My hat goes off to East St. John. We played them in the jamboree, and they ate our lunch with the press.’
“Tonight, we did a much better job, especially our guards, passing through the trap and moving the ball.”
The two teams have traded blows in recent seasons. Brother Martin defeated East St. John in a triple overtime game at last year’s Sugar Bowl CYO tournament and eliminated the Wildcats in a 2012 regional round playoff game. The Wildcats earned convincing wins over the Crusaders, on the road last year and at home two years ago.
ESJ (6-2) also won a jamboree game handily over the Crusaders in the preseason, but this time, Brother Martin (9-2) was ready for the Wildcats’ defensive pressure.
“We just had too many mental breakdowns,” said ESJ coach Yussef Jasmine. “We shot 50 percent from the foul line, then in the second half we give up two crucial, crucial offensive rebounds down the stretch.’
“When you’re playing against a prideful, traditionally powerful team like Brother Martin, they’re going to pick up their game mentally. You have to do the same because you just know they will.”
The Wildcats led 30-28 at halftime and took a 37-33 lead on an Anthony Steer three-point play midway through the third quarter.
But then Brother Martin started to make its move, with a transition bucket by Cornish capping a quick 6-0 run.
“We know Cornish can score. We knew that coming in. We did a good job on him in the first half and then we just let him get loose.”
Two free throws by ESJ’s Kyle Patterson tied things up at 39, but Brother Martin’s Austin Gauthreaux answered with an inside bucket, then Lewis canned an open 3 to make it 44-39. A layup by Bruce Jordan gave the Crusaders a 49-42 lead near the end of the third quarter.
East St. John charged back in the fourth A runner by Tre’Von Jasmine made it 57-52, then a fast break bucket by Raekwon McKnight made it a 57-54 game.
But that’s when Cornish made the game his own. With just less than three minutes left, he followed a Jordan score with a bucket of his own, drawing a foul and sinking the free throw to make it 64-56. He’d sink another free throw and score another inside bucket to make it 67-60.
“We came here two years ago and they blew us out. We didn’t want it to happen again,” said Cornish.
Then, with 1:25 left, his steal and layup gave Brother Martin its biggest lead of the game at 69-60, all but finishing the Wildcats.
In all, Cornish scored 11 of his 24 points in the final quarter.
“He’s going to Tennessee, and they’re getting a heck of a player,” said Biehl. “He can put us on his back. But at the same time, he couldn’t do what he does if these other guys aren’t doing what they do. Drew and Austin, those guys hit some outstanding shots toight.”
Added Cornish, “Intensity, intensity, intensity. We got the ball to the hole and kept attacking and getting to the line.”
Brother Martin led 11-3 in the first quarter before an ESJ surge tied it up at 11 heading into a back-and-forth second quarter that saw the Crusaders take a six-point lead before ESJ rallied to lead by five.
Troy Green scored 19 to lead ESJ. Jasmine added 17.