Trench, Rams upend Ellender for 3rd straight year

Published 11:45 pm Friday, November 28, 2014


HOUMA — Lester Smith smiled after his West St. John Lady Rams earned a 59-46 victory at host Ellender Wednesday on the final day of the annual Ellender tournament.

“This is what kind of has kick-started us over the past three years,” Smith said.

The Rams have defeated the 4A Patriots, a traditionally strong program, at the tournament in each of the past three seasons. West St. John won by three in 2013, but controlled the action throughout in this week’s contest.

Maya Trench led WSJ with 19 points. JuJuan Nicholas scored 12 and Lakendra Lewis added 10 to help lead the Rams to their fourth victory this season.

“We’re looking to get the championship,” Trench said. “Last year, we missed it. This year, we’re going harder. We didn’t slack off today. We kept playing hard.”

West St. John led by four early in the fourth quarter after two free throws by Ellender’s Sky Jasper, but the Rams quickly turned up their offense after a seven-point third quarter.

With 5:50 left to play, Trench found Jaquanna Hunter wide open in the corner for 3, and the forward measured and buried the shot to make it 44-37.

The Rams (4-1) got a stop, then it was Lewis’ turn to step up, making a runner in the lane to push the lead to 46-37.

“We expect good things out of Lakendra,” Smith said of his sophomore guard, who has earned a greater role this season. “She’s going to help us a lot this season.”

Trench seemed to sense the win was in striking distance. She made a steal at the defensive end, then grabbed an offensive rebound before making a floater to give WSJ an 11-point advantage with 5:25 left.

Ellender never got closer than eight again. The Rams sank five free throws down the stretch to extinguish any Patriot hopes of a comeback. West St. John scored 20 fourth quarter points.

“We passed better (in the fourth quarter),” Trench said. “We got more into our offense and that got us going.”

West St. John led 32-23 at halftime. Jasper scored four points in the third quarter to help Ellender (2-2) cut the Rams lead to six entering the fourth.

The Patriots scored 80 points in a blowout of H.L. Bourgeois earlier in the tournament. The Rams held Ellender to a little over half that production.

“We played good man defense,” Smith said. “That’s something we’re doing more of this year. We’ve got a group of kids who understand their roles very well in our defense, and it showed (Wednesday).”