Ladycat playoff hopes alive
Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — East St. John coach Jackson Manuel went one step further when asked if his team’s upcoming district game against Thibodaux Thursday was a “virtual playoff game.”
“Lately, they’ve all been playoff games for us,” said Manuel.
His Wildcats have kept their true playoff hopes alive of late with victories in three straight District 7-5A games, the latest a 35-25 victory at home over Hahnville on Monday.
Jermani Thompson and Kennisha Brooks each scored nine points to lead ESJ. Bria Thompson added eight.
Harley Morris led Hahnville (8-18, 4-8) with 12. Toriel Flot added seven.
The Wildcats (14-12, 7-5) have cranked up their defense of late and Monday was no exception. ESJ allowed just three first quarter points and no double-digit quarters.
“We were able to keep pressure on the ball,” said Manuel. “We forced plenty of turnovers. The disappointing thing is that we didn’t convert those into points. But we did a solid job rebounding the ball.”
Manuel said that as the season has rolled along, the team’s bigs have evolved into the strength of the roster. He said that all four of his main rotation frontcourt players — Brooks, Thompson, Crystal Kemp and Dessiah Lawson — gave strong minutes on Monday.
“Due to some unexpected circumstances, we’re a little thinner in the backcourt than we expected to be this year,” said Manuel. “We’ve had to rely on some true freshmen for minutes … Our bigs have started to assert themselves.”
East St. John sat at No. 37 in the Class 5A power rankings as of Tuesday morning. The team has one game remaining: at Thibodaux (20-5) on Thursday. The Tigers are the No. 14 team in the rankings.
“I’d expect a win to give us a full point there, which should put us in the field (of 32),” said Manuel. “The reality is, when we lost that game to South Lafourche, it put us in a bad spot, where any loss can end our season.”
EAST ST. JOHN 42, H.L. BOURGEOIS 34 — The Wildcats got a necessary road win Friday night at H.L. Bourgeois, led by 28 combined points by Da’Rae Taylor and Jermani Thompson.
The two backcourt stars each scored 14 on a night where ESJ shut H.L. Bourgeois out in the first quarter. ESJ took a 13-point lead into halftime.