ESJ avenges loss to Central, advances

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014


LAPLACE — No District 7-5A team gave its champion East St. John more fits than Central Lafourche in 2014.

But that was a distant memory at the Leon Godchaux gym Friday night, East St. John showing its mettle in a 71-58 bi-district round playoff victory in front of a big crowd. 

The 7th seeded Wildcats (24-5) advanced to the regional round where they were slated to host No. 10 East Ascension Tuesday night after press time.

Tre’Von Jasmine’s game-high 28 points led the way for East St. John. Edwin Winston and Troy Green each scored 14, while Raekwon McKnight added nine. 

Anfernee Poindexter led Central Lafourche with 13. Sherman Robinson scored 12 and Josh Joseph added 10. 

The two teams split during the regular season, with each winning a game at home: Central Lafourche won 65-57 on Feb. 4, East St. John 62-57 on Jan. 10.

“We saw people picking them to beat us again,” said Tre’Von Jasmine. “We were prepared for this game. We wanted to prove people wrong.”

East St. John has won 17 of its past 19 games. 

The Trojans were the district’s Cinderella story this season, a rebuilt program under coach Mark Sanders that hadn’t won a district game in any of its prior three seasons. Central Lafourche went 10-4 in 7-5A, finishing as its runner-up.

“We knew they felt that this was shaping up to be a season of destiny for them,” said East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine. “We knew that we had to take them out of it early. We kind of had to take their fans out of it, as crazy as that is. They brought a lot of fans with them.” 

East St. John got off to a quick start, outscoring the Trojans 20-7 in the first quarter. Central Lafourche 917-11) hung in thanks to some key 3-point shots by Joseph and Robinson, but East St. John took complete control late in the second quarter thanks to some marksmanship of their own, specifically by Marcel Kelly.

With 2:21 left in the first half, Kelly answered a Joseph 3 with one of his own, a corner shot that put ESJ ahead 33-18. Then Green made a steal and Kelly found himself free for a jumper from the exact same spot. He buried it and the Wildcat lead grew to 18 in the blink of an eye. ESJ led 38-18 at halftime.

“A team like this, if you make a mistake, they’ll burn you,” said Sanders. “I told them before this game that against East St. John, you’re always 30 seconds to a minute from being down 10. They’re that explosive.”

Tre’Von Jasmine started to take over in the third quarter, showing off his entire offensive repertoire: he scored on a pair of putbacks, a pair of dunks and two jumpers to finish with 12 points in the quarter. 

“I know he can do that. I always get on him about doing that,” said Yussef Jasmine of Tre’Von, his son. “He’s always had that capability. It’s big for him to step up in that way.”

By this point, ESJ had begun to dominate the game in transition and led by as many as 25, but Central Lafourche wasn’t ready to give up and made a big fourth quarter push. Ramon Robertson and Jarvis Richard scored consecutive baskets to cut the lead to 16. A Poindexter corner 3 made it an 11 point game and capped a 7-0 Central run with just over five minutes left. 

“One thing I know about that team, they fight,” said Yussef Jasmine. “That’s the strength of their team. They just play so hard.”

But Central just couldn’t get over the hump. Winston bumped the lead back to 13 with a layup in transition, then Tre’Von Jasmine did the same. A three-point play by Poindexter kept Central alive with 3:40 remaining, but it was a last gasp, with McKnight scoring on a layup and Winston hitting two free throws to put ESJ back ahead by 15 with under three minutes left.

“They outrebounded us. They outhustled us. They manhandled us tonight,” said Sanders. “Every time we got within 10 in the fourth, they answered us.”

It all added up to step one for an East St. John team that’s now four wins away from its ultimate goal.

“We had to come out and make a statement tonight. Our community believes in us. They think we can do it, and I know we can do it,” said Tre’Von Jasmine.