Wildcats clinch district crown, beat Tigers

Published 3:38 am Saturday, February 15, 2014


LAPLACE — While many the opposing schools have changed, East St. John has long played in a 5A district rich with basketball talent during the coach Yussef Jasmine era. 

They’ve also long sat atop it. 

The Wildcats officially banked their fourth straight district championship and their fifth in six years with a 57-52 victory over host Thibodaux Thursday night, the Wildcats led by leading scorers Edwin Winston and Raekwon McKnight. 

Winston and McKnight each scored 16 points while Tre’Von Jasmine added 12 for the Wildcats, who improved to 21-5 overall and 11-1 in District 7-5A play. 

Every other team in 7-5A has at least four losses, leaving East St. John with a three game lead with two district matchups remaining. 

The Wildcats rode a hot start, jumping on the home team 19-9 in the opening quarter and holding the Tigers at bay from there. 

Yussef Jasmine said that getting off to a hot start was an even bigger focus than usual in the days leading up to the game. 

“We knew it was going to be a hostile crowd,” said Jasmine. “With social media what it is now, kids are talking trash and they want to back it up.’

“In our pregame talk, we said we wanted to take that crowd out of the game early, and I thought we did a good job of it. Put a lid on the basket. We allowed nine points in the first quarter, so that was a good start.”

In addition, Winston and Tre’Von Jasmine each slammed home dunks that got the Wildcats’ emotionally hyped. 

“Combined with the defense, you have two plays like that and it kind of makes the fans say, ‘Oh, no!’” said Jasmine. 

Elray Duncan led Thibodaux (19-7, 8-4) with 13 points. Chris Bryant added 12.

Yussef Jasmine said earlier this week that while the Wildcats had a district championship in their sights, “there comes a time where you need to do more,” speaking of a playoff run to the Top 28 tournament. East St. John fell one round short of that last season, falling in the 5A quarterfinals. 

But the coach also said that he and his players don’t intend to stop winning district, and they haven’t; and he said he can stop and appreciate what the program has done in recent years. 

“I’m blessed to be in this position,” he said. “The crazy thing is we’ve really been in three different districts. We’ve played St. Amant and East Ascension, then last year with Bonnabel, now we’re with H.L. Bourgeois and Thibodaux … Destrehan and Hahnville have always been with us. But we’ve been able to do it against a slew of different teams.’

“We’re right in the midst of a run in basketball … it’s a humbling experience. From the kids to the fans, our coaches, a very supportive principal and athletic director. I’m thankful for it all.”

East St. John hosts Terrebonne Tuesday and travels to Destrehan Friday.