West St. John ousts top-ranked Lady Eagles

In a season of historic marks for the Central Catholic Lady Eagles in which the squad won numerous games with ease, the Morgan City-based team couldn’t get past the one mark that has plagued CCHS in its girls’ basketball history: the quarterfinal round.

West St. John, Class 1A’s No. 8 seed came into the Matchbox, armed with many of its fans from Edgard, and returned home with an upset victory against the top seeded Lady Eagles, 69-62.

The Lady Rams led the Lady Eagles for much of the game, paced by its three point shooting by eighth grader Maya Trench and Jalyn Gordon.

Specifically in the second half, West St. John limited many CCHS’ offensive possessions to one shot, and when West St. John was on offense, it was able to get grab numerous offensive rebounds for shots.

“We stress defense all year, and that’s the best thing we want to do,” WSJ coach Lester Smith said. “Hell, we played a great ball club. We’re just happy to be where we’re at right now.”

In the fourth quarter, West. St. John broke the game open, outscoring the Lady Eagles, 18-13, extending the Lady Rams’ two-point lead after three quarters.

The Lady Rams extended the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 11-3 run that began with a three-pointer by Trench and ended on an inside basket by Harly Morris following an assist by Gordon.

However, CCHS clawed its way back. Meo Knight converted a three-point play after she was fouled on a basket she made and converted the subsequent free throw to cut the lead to 62-55 with about 2:30 left.

Knight went to the free throw line less than a minute later and made 1 of 2 shots to cut the lead to 62-56.

After a basket by Gordon, Knight responded with a field goal with 1:31 left to cut the WSJ lead to 64-60.

However, that was as close as CCHS would get as the squad was forced to foul with time running out.

With time already on its side, WSJ converted enough free throws to pull out the win.

“They just out-hustled us,” CCHS assistant coach Joe Jones said. “They really did. As well as they did, we were still in the game. We weren’t playing well. We didn’t play a very good game. When those things happen, you’re going to lose. I’m a firm believer in one thing: when a team wins, the team wins. When we lose, that’s on the coach.”

In the first half, WSJ’s scorching three-point shooting helped it keep pace with Central Catholic, who made just one three-pointer on the night.

Both teams were tied at 13 after one, but the Lady Rams, led by three-pointers from Gordon, Danasia Bell and Trench, took a 31-26 lead into half.

The Lady Rams converted on seven three-pointers in the first half, five of those coming via Gordon, who led WSJ with 32 points. Trench added 15 for the visitors.

“They did a good job,” Jones said. “They got in a rhythm with shooting, and we didn’t guard like we should have. We didn’t convert free throws and we got some second shots (put up) on us.

For CCHS, Knight and Randi Brown were the lone double figure scorers with 27 and 19 points apiece.

Despite the loss, CCHS has no seniors, meaning its entire roster should return next season.

“The future’s bright but the girls wanted to win this year,” Jones said of a state title. “We didn’t have our best game tonight and when you’re a No. 1 seed everybody’s going to get up for you and they got up for us tonight.”

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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