ROBERTSDALE, ALA. — The St. Martin Lady Yellow Jackets suffered through some growing pains last year and ended up missing out on the state playoffs after finishing winless in seven region games.
But if the early success second-year head coach Jason Kennedy’s squad has achieved this season is any indication, then the SMHS girls should be in the running when postseason berths are doled out at the end of the regular season.
The Lady Yellow Jackets had a five-game win streak snapped Monday night after Jackson, Ala., nipped SMHS 44-40 in the championship game of the 11th annual Robertsdale Pre-Thanksgiving Invitational Tournament. St. Martin now sits at 5-2 overall as the Lay Yellow Jackets sit down for Thanksgiving dinner in a couple of days.
“It was a defensive battle all night. We were able to force Jackson into 21 turnovers but we just couldn’t capitalize,” Kennedy said. “We had our chances but couldn’t get over the hump. The girls played with tremendous heart and showed a great deal of toughness, we just have to do a better job of putting the ball in the basket.”
St. Martin suffered some shooting woes from the free throw line that played a big part in the loss to the Lady Aggies, converting on just four of 16 attempts for an average of 25 percent.
LaDymein Lafayette scored 13 points to pace SMHS in the game, while, Kaleah Lowery and Zee Allen scored 12 points apiece also.
Allen was named to the prestigious Robertsdale Pre-Thanksgiving All-Tournament Team.
After a season-opening loss to yet another team from Lower Alabama, Davidson High of Mobile, the Lady Yellow Jackets reeled off five straight wins in a nine-day span to move to 5-1 before the loss Monday night. The loss to Davidson was a 54-53 decision, leaving the two Lady Yellow Jacket losses this season by a total of five points.
“I have been very pleased with our defensive pressure the last few games. as well as our transition scoring,” Kennedy stated before playing for the tourney title Monday night. “we rely a lot on our depth. We just try to keep running waves in and out in order to stay fresh as the game wears on. We anywhere from 12-15 girls every night and that is a luxury to be able to do that without a big dip in performance.”
St. Martin opened tourney play on Friday with a big 51-17 win over McGill-Toolen of Mobile. Allen tallied a game-high 18 points and Kylenn Ward chipped in 10 points to the winning cause in that contest.
Then, in the semifinals on Saturday, the Lady Yellow Jackets thumped the host Robertsdale squad 66-7. Leading scorers were Lowery with a game-high 16 points and Allen added 13 points while Ward, Yvette Nathan, Janila Curtis and Jamyria Robinson all chipped in 8 points a piece.
After a holiday break of just over a week, next up for St. Martin is perhaps the strongest test of the season for the squad as the Lady Yellow Jackets host Hancock on Tuesday, Nv. 28th.