Lady Spartans advance past St. Joseph’s

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s Symone Miller converts a lay up off a steal ahead of St. Joseph’s Erin Aguillard to give the Lady Spartans a 46-45 lead in the fourth quarter of their Class 5A bi-district playoff victory Thursday night.

East Ascension overcame 10 3-pointer from St. Joseph’s Academy and a deficit with less than a minute to play to pull out a 58-54 Class 5A bi-district playoff victory Thursday night at EAHS’ gym.

Kaneesha Grant’s lay up off a steal with 52 seconds remaining put fifth seeded East Ascension ahead of No. 28 seed St. Joseph in the waning moments.

“They kept us on our heels, on our toes and everything but it wasn’t enough,” East Ascension head coach Dennis Chandler said. “We still got a victory and right now we are going to move on. We have been very resilient this year. Everybody has got problems but they have fought through all the adversaries.”

“You have to give St. Joseph all the credit. They came in very well prepared. They played two of the top teams in the state (Walker and Denham Springs) and didn’t get manhandled. They held their own so I did not expect to blow them off the floor. The young lady (SJA coach deLynn Stelly) did a very good job coaching.”

Josie West scored a game-high 24 points for East Ascension (21-4), who advanced to host No. 11 seed John Ehret, a 51-48 winner over 21st seed Ruston, Monday night. Grant and Alexis Ruth each added 11, while Symone Miller provided eight.

Cimberly Dickerson led St. Joseph (16-15) with 19 points. Morgan Briggs added 12, while Erin Aguillard provided 11.

“We played well,” Stelly said. “We played our hearts out. I couldn’t ask for anything more. We didn’t rebound as well as I thought we could in the second half and Josie did a great job. They went to her everytime and she made shots.”

“We were well prepared. We shot the ball well from the 3-point line and it kept us in the ball game but their lay-ups off a couple of steals was the difference.”

The lead changed 10 times in the first quarter with West’s putback cutting it to 18-17 going into the second quarter. Briggs’ 3-pointer after Ruth’s drive and one preceded Dickerson’s drive and putback. Miller’s jumper opened the contest before Briggs’ 3-pointer and West’s inside bucket.

Sabrina Stansberry’s putback put St. Joseph’s ahead 5-4 before Grant fed West inside and one. Another 3-pointer from Briggs preceded Ruth’s before Dickerson’s turnaround jumper and West’s putback.

Miller’s lay up off a steal and West’s inside bucket opened the second quarter to give East Ascension a 21-18 lead before consecutive 3-pointers from Aguillard and Dickerson preceded Grant’s. West’s free throw cut it to 32-29 at half-time after Bianca Bougere’s baseline drive was sandwiched by Shannon McDuff’s 19-footer and Dickerson’s putback.

Briggs’ jumper opened the second half before Miller fed a cutting Grant. Dickerson’s 3-pointer from the left wing preceded Katona Blanche’s lay up off an inbounds before Augillard pulled up along the baseline. Grant’s putback knotted it up 40-40 with 2:45 left in the third quarter after West’s inside bucket and Ruth’s transition basket. Miller’s jumper put East Ascension ahead 38 seconds later but Aguillard nailed a 3-pointer in transition and Dickerson’s drive gave the Lady Redstickers a 45-42 lead going into the final frame.

Ruth fed West in transition off Bougere’s steal to open the final stanza before dishing to Miller off another to give the Lady Spartans the lead with 7:18 left to play. Dickerson’s 3-pointer preceded West’s inside bucket before Kelsey Schexnayder fed Briggs for a 3-pointer on the left wing to give St. Joseph’s a 51-48 lead. West’s spin inside after a pair of free throws put East Ascension ahead before Schexnayder’s 3-pointer made it 54-53 with 2:57 left to play. East Ascension would miss four straight free throws and were called for traveling before Grant’s lay up pushed the Lady Spartans ahead. West and Ruth hit three free throws down the stretch to reflect the final tally.

Overall, East Ascension was 11 of 23 from the line.

“I would rather miss that many and win than miss one and lose,” Chandler said. “You have to keep in perspective that every game and every situation is different. We have to take it one game at a time.”

East Ascension’s Kaneesha Grant converts a lay up off a steal ahead of St. Joseph’s Kelsey?Schexnayder to give the Lady Spartans a 55-54 lead with 52 seconds remaining in their Class 5A bi-district playoff victory Thursday night.