Championships within reach, Four area teams play today for state titles

Warren Arceneaux

Today could be a banner day for Southwest Louisiana girls basketball teams, with four area high schools competing for state championships at the University Center on the Southeastern Louisiana University campus in Hammond.

Inside strength carried LaGrange in its Class 4A semifinal win over Warren Easton, with forwards Deja Tanks and Mckenzie Shaw combining for 24 points and 18 rebounds, while guard Jeriah Warren posted a double-double of 20 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Huntington held Neville to 38 points and 31 percent shooting to reach the final.

“They cause a lot of turnovers and finish in transition,” Gators head coach La’Keem Holmes said of the Tigers. “We’ve challenged our three girls who have played in a championship game to take the lead. We’ve preached to the others that they can’t try to win it all on one play.”

Division II

St. Louis and Liberty meet in the final for a third consecutive year. Liberty won the previous two games and cruised past Ursuline Academy in the semifinals, winning 68-49 behind a balanced scoring attack, with four players reaching double figures. The Patriots have lots of size and rotate four post players in and out.

The Saints struggled against St. Thomas More in their semifinal, leading by one after three quarters before pulling away late in a 48-41 win. The turnover battle will be a key factor as both teams prefer to use pressure defense to create transition scoring opportunities.

Class 2A

Lake Arthur will be looking for revenge after Doyle eliminated it in last year’s semifinals. Doyle has two 2,000-point career scorers in Presleigh Scott and Elise Jones. Lake Arthur’s Deonna Brister has more than 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds and will look to cap her career with a state title. She had 32 points and 14 rebounds in the semifinal win over Amite.

Points should be plentiful as Lake Arthur is averaging 75 points per game in the playoffs. Doyle averages 77 and has gotten a 43-point game from Scott and 31-point game from Jones. Lake Arthur has a deep group of scoring options that includes Kathryn Leonards, Kali Hornsby and Vivian Sketoe.

Class C

Reeves knocked off top-seeded Gibsland-Coleman in the semifinals behind a strong defensive performance, allowing 34 points and 17 percent shooting. Now the Raiders face another tall task against Hicks, which won the Class C title last year and Class B title in 2019.

The Pirates are led by Louisiana-Monroe signee Chloe Wilbanks, a senior guard who scored 27 points in Hicks’ semifinal win over Plainview.

Raiders forward Faith Cauthron had 16 points and 17 rebounds in the semifinal game. Shelbi Miller added 12 on 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point range. Claire Dunnehoo is the Raiders’ leading scorer at 21 points per game. Reeves received a boost just before the playoffs started with the return of point guard Maddie Ford from a knee injury. Ford had not played since November.LG Aasia Sam puts up the shot against Lynn Griffin during a playoff game at Lagrange High School Feb. 25, 2021.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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