Wildcats win 2 of 3 at St. Mary’s tournament

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013


LAPLACE – East St. John handed Higgins just its second loss of the season Friday night, besting the Hurricanes 49-32 at the St. Mary’s tournament.
The Ladycats won two of three games overall at the event, besting McDonogh No. 35 53-29 but falling to West Jefferson 43-37.
“The Higgins win was a strong one for us,” said East St. John coach Jackson Manuel. “They were coming off a big win themselves over West St. John, so that was a good outing for us.’
“I was disappointed in the West Jefferson loss, though. I really felt that we should have played for the championship at that tournament, and we came up short of our best effort. It’s a young group, so these are the growing pains that come along with that.”
Three Wildcats scored in double figures to lead the way past Higgins (8-2): Jermani Thompson and Kannisha Brooks each scored 12 while Da’Rae Taylor added 10.
“We played pretty good defense,” said East St. John coach Jackson Manuel. “They weren’t really able to handle our guard pressure. We forced a lot of turnovers and that really was the catalyst for our offense.”
ESJ (6-6) got off to a fast start, outscoring Higgins 10-3 in the first quarter. It continued to build the lead from there, outscoring the Hurricanes in every quarter thereafter.
Against McDonogh 35, it was more of the same, with ESJ logging another 10-3 first quarter advantage. This time, though, the Wildcats landed the knockout punch in the third quarter, outscoring the Roneagles 21-7.
Brooks scored 16 to lead the Wildcats. Taylor added 12.
Karrenasia Barley led McDonogh No. 35 (4-8) with 19.
Manuel said that when Brooks elevates her game and gives a scoring punch along side the team’s powerful starting guard duo of Thompson and Taylor, it makes the Wildcats extremely difficult to match.
“It really gives us a huge boost,” said Manuel. “Scoring inside, hitting the boards. Those kind of games are a bit of an indication she’s playing a little stronger.”
West Jefferson (8-2) outscored ESJ 26-15 over the second and third quarters to create enough separation for a 43-37 victory.
“We missed too many easy looks,” said Manuel. “We had opportunities, good shots, and didn’t convert. That was disappointing.”
East St. John was set for a rematch with Higgins Tuesday night on the road, after press time. The Wildcats will open up District 7-5A play Monday afternoon at home against Terrebonne. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.