Ladycats fall short of playoffs
Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — The East St. John girls basketball team fell short of qualifying for the postseason, its season officially coming to a close with a 62-56 loss last week at Thibodaux.
Da’Rae Taylor scored 22 points to lead ESJ. Jermani Thompson scored 11 and Kennisha Brooks added eight.
Erica Stove scored 19 to lead Thibodaux. Jewel Triggs added 16 and Elise Plaisance scored 15.
ESJ was on the edge of the postseason picture and a victory over a strong Thibodaux team likely would have meant a playoff spot.
Much like the first meeting between ESJ and Thibodaux, the Tigers got out to a strong lead early before East St. John made a second-half run. This time, it came in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats outscoring Thibodaux 28-20 in the final period after entering the second half down by 14.
But though the Wildcats’ defensive pressure gave Thibodaux fits, the Tigers turned back East St. John for a second time.
“We played a little bit of a smaller lineup late there,” said East St. John coach Jackson Manuel. “A little younger, but we were quicker.”
But Manuel said that digging such a big early hole will be anyone’s undoing when on the road against a good team.
“We turned it over so, so many times. It was horrific,” he said. “We were throwing it away against their press. I don’t know why that changed so suddenly.”
The Wildcats lose two seniors: Thompson, who has been one of her team’s leading scorers at guard over the past three seasons, and forward Crystal Kemp, a key rebounder and interior presence.
The rest of the team will return, including leading scorer Taylor and Brooks, who emerged this season as the team’s top frontcourt player.
“We’re gonna get stronger,” said Manuel. “It’s a matter of how much we mature from now until next season.”
He said that this season’s team lacked the consistency of last season’s co-district champion.
“We were four or five deep when it came to freshmen in our rotation,” said Manuel. “It’s inevitable. Some nights we looked very good, and the next we’d have no chance.”