Rams score key district victory

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2014


LAPLACE — While White Castle wrapped up District 8-1A by running the table, West St. John forced a three-way tie for second place Friday night by defeating Ascension Catholic, 63-51, in the final regular season game for both teams. 

Those two teams each finished with 6-4 district marks, tied with East Iberville for second in the league. 

Junior forward Morell Bartholomew finished with a game-high 26 points to lead the Rams to victory. 

He was complimented by a 16 point night from senior guard Quan Scott, while Da’Jon Taylor added eight. 

Kaleb Winchester led Ascension Catholic with 20 points. Delmond Landry added 11. 

West St. John was playing its second game under new head coach Juan Joseph. Former coach LaVanta Davis stepped down earlier this month for personal reasons, said West St. John athletic director Robert Valdez. 

“Coach Davis gave us a great gameplan,” said Joseph, who served as Davis’ assistant before stepping up. “Morrell showed up big time. He played outstanding tonight and we needed that kind of game.”

A red hot start spelled the difference for the Rams (10-11, 6-4), as West St. John took a 17-3 lead early on, but the Bulldogs made things interesting early in the second half. 

The Rams led 33-17 early in the third quarter when a Gilbert Allen bucket ignited a 12-2 ACHS run. Landry scored a basket, then Winchester grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup to make it 33-23. He then drew a foul and sank a free throw.

Ryan Cannon scored inside to push the Ram lead back to 11, but Landry got to the line for two free throws, then sank a 3 to cut the deficit to 35-29.

Scott answered with a much-needed three for the Rams. Bartholomew answered a Bulldogs bucket with a layup at the other end, then added another to push the lead to 11.

“I thought right there, we had a chance to swing things,” said Ascension Catholic coach Reginald Brown. “But then they came down and hit a 3, and from there we couldn’t get it under seven again.”

Said Bartholomew, “I thought when we needed it, we played really good defense. We brought a lot of intensity.”

That provided the spark West St. John needed to put things away. WSJ scored four quick points to begin the period. Back to back baskets by Taylor pushed the Rams lead to 17 midway through the quarter, and a basket by Jermaine Butler gave the Rams its biggest lead of the night at 18, 60-42. 

Scott and Butler were honored before the game as their team’s lone seniors as the school celebrated its senior night. 

“We were playing for those guys,” said Bartholomew. “We were playing for our coach (Davis). We’ve been through a lot of adversity lately, and we wanted to come out and have a great game.”

Brown said that the game mirrored the first between the teams, a 65-54 win at Ascension Catholic (14-14, 6-4).

“They hit us early. Credit them, they did a real good job tonight,” said Brown. “They were clicking on cylinders.”

For Joseph, who is perhaps best known locally for leading the Rams’ football team to a Class 2A state championship as quarterback in 2004, it was his first victory as Rams head basketball coach. His first game as coach came in a 67-39 loss to White Castle.

“The last one didn’t go as well as I’d have liked, so I’m glad we pulled it out tonight,” said Joseph. “Our senior night, all of the guys came out with a lot of energy. And our big crowd helped push us to the win.”