Led by a pair of double-doubles from Rylee Jinks and Maggie Manuel, and a smothering defense, No. 1 Fairview cruised to a 66-41 win over No. 5 Florien Tuesday in the Class B semifinals at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Marsh Madness state basketball tournament at Burton Coliseum.
Fairview forced 41 turnovers and turned those into 33 points.
"We felt like if we could create some turnovers, or at least force them to play at the pace we wanted to play at, we felt like we had a better chance to win," Fairview head coach Kyle Jinks said. "I think (Florien) got caught up playing the way (we play). We forced them to do that because of our press.
"We didn't shoot the ball well, but we don't have to shoot it well if you can defend and rebound. That is what I have been telling them all year long. We are excited, but we still have one more to play."
The win sent the Panthers in the final first for the first time since 2014, the last of their state-record eight consecutive state championships. Fairview (41-3) will face the winner of a pair District 7-B rivals in No. 2 Hathaway (29-5) and No. 6 Lacassine (32-7) at 6 p.m. Friday.
"I don't have a preference," Jinks said. "I just want to beat whoever we get."
Jinks, the Panthers' point guard, almost had a quadruple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and seven steals.
"We have been working for this all year," Rylee Jinks said. "We have always made it to the semifinals and lost out. But this year we knew this was our year. Coming into this game, we knew they were going to be fast, but we were faster. We ran the ball up the floor, played fast and they were not able to keep up with us."
Manuel had to battle in the lane with Florien's Gracie Sylvia (14 points, 11 rebounds) and LaToya Holmes (8 pts., 11 rebs.) and finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
"They were a pretty physical team," Manuel said of Florien. "We just have to play through it.
"We focus on rebounding and boxing out. That is really important because when we have teams like that, who are really physical, we have to get every rebound that we can. We have to be physical also. We just have to beat them on the boards. Whoever I am guarding, I have to get more rebounds than them."
Senior guard Laynee Jinks scored a game-high 16 points and Rylee Cloud finished with 13 for the Panthers.
Fairview led 25-7 after the first quarter and wasn't seriously threatened until the third quarter. Florien (28-8) cut Fairview's lead to 41-29 with 2:30 left in the third on a bucket in the lane by Sylvia, but the Panthers wrapped up the quarter with a 13-2 run.