Lady Cats start District season undefeated

Published 12:01 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

RESERVE — The East St. John High girls basketball team is streaking through District play with high intensity and a focus on teamwork.

Averaging 60 points per game and entering the week with a 17-6 record, 5-0 in District, the Lady Cats are in a good position for a February playoff run.

Head coach Stasha James said success comes from utilizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses through a collaborative team effort.

“If we’re not all bringing it, we can’t be successful,” James said.

With a team consisting of four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen, it’s up to everyone to contribute their unique skills rather than rely solely on upperclassmen.

The Lady Cats are averaging 60 points per game and entered this week at 17-6 and 5-0 in District.

James said transfer students new to the team this season have been a welcome addition, and younger players have stepped out of their comfort zones to provide high-energy gameplay.

“They’ve been doing a good job giving us quality minutes,” James said. “Every individual is important, no matter if you come off the bench, and everyone plays a vital part on the team.”

The team has shown marked improvement at running the floor, James said, and certain players have established themselves as leaders in terms of scoring.

Seniors Meah Monroe and Taylor Lipps and junior Kayja Jackson are averaging double digits, regularly contributing 15, 15 and 12 points per game, respectively.

James described Lipps as an energetic player, always operating at a high speed with an aggressive passion for the game.

Sometimes she plays at such a force that James has to remind her to dial it back.

Lipps has good court awareness, leads in assists and is a 40 percent 3-point shooter, James said, adding that successful percentage is one of the highest she’s witnessed in her time as a coach.

Monroe and Jackson are similar because they each have a fighting spirit, work hard and give 100 percent effort in every game, according to James.

“They’re real scrappy players who get a lot of offensive putbacks based on rebounding capabilities,” James said.

She said Jackson and Monroe are returning players who are continuing the precedence of excellence established during the 2017 season.

Last year, skilled runner Jackson led in rebounds, and Monroe was named defensive player of the year.

Senior Kynedi Poullard has been another force on the court.

Averaging 8 points per game, Poullard is a “fundamental offensive player who has all of the skills,” according to James.

In a December game against top team Salmen High, ultimately ending in a 53-64 loss, Poullard came out full force and scored 22 points.

As District play continues and playoffs approach, James is promoting consistency and accountability on the court by running a variety of lay-up drills during practice.

“We definitely want to bring high intensity,” James said.

“If we get it done in practice, it’s easily transported to the game.”

The East St. John High Lady Cats play at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Live Oak High School in Watson.