Tigers hold off Ladycats

Published 11:45 pm Friday, January 24, 2014


LAPLACE — For East St. John, an inspiring late-game rally ended in defeat as visiting Thibodaux mustered a crunch time push to emerge with a 54-42 District 7-5A victory.

For the Wildcats, the home loss proved a painful one — it dropped ESJ three games back of 7-5A leader Destrehan midway through district play. The two teams split district championship honors last season. A win would have pulled ESJ into a tie with Thibodaux (14-4, 6-1) for second place. 

The Tigers took control of the game in the second quarter, holding the Wildcats to just three second quarter points as Thibodaux took a 26-12 lead into the half. 

“I turned to my young guards tonight, and they played their butts off,” said Thibodaux coach Damon Robinson. “We’ve got a freshman and a sophomore in there. We’re a defense-oriented teams. Our guards have length and they can defend. We stopped the ball well tonight.”

East St. John (10-10, 4-3) fought to within three in the fourth quarter, but Thibodaux closed the victory out with a 12-2 run to end the game.

Da’Rae Taylor led East St. John with 15 points. Kannisha Brooks added 13. Jermani Thompson and Bria Thompson each added seven.

Erica Stove led Thibodaux with 15 points. Jewel Triggs scored 12 while Erica Chaisson and Miantee Guidry each added eight. 

Thibodaux led 34-23 after a Triggs’ wing 3-pointer, but then the Wildcats started to make their move, getting their offense going by pounding the ball inside. Bria Thompson scored inside, then Brooks matched that feat twice to make it 36-31. 

“I told them to settle down and Da’Rae that she couldn’t win it by herself,” said Manuel. “We needed to get everyone involved.”

Jermani Thompson drew afoul and sank two at the line, then Brooks jumped out for a steal and a layup to make it a 38-35 Tiger advantage.

East St. John trailed 42-28 midway through the fourth when Miantee Guidry scored inside off a feed from Chaisson, kickstarting a game-clinching surge for Thibodaux. Stove drilled a jumper to make it 46-38 with 4:04 remaining.

With three minutes left, Taylor sank a jumper to cut the Wildcats’ deficit to seven, but ESJ wouldn’t score again in the game. 

Missed free throws plagued East St. John. In one first half stretch, ESJ missed nine of 10 free throw attempts.

“We get within three at one point. That’s when you really look back at all those missed free throws and layups,” said Manuel. “We had a chance to win anyway at the end, and we throw it away three straight times down the floor.’

“Control the things you can control. When you’re wide open at the basket, make the shot. When you get to the free throw line, make those. You can win these games but not if we’re giving away so many points. That’s what’s frustrating.”

Robinson, conversely, pointed to the foul line as a plus for his team down the stretch.

“We made our free throws in the second half. As much as anything, that made a difference,” he said.