Gators roll, back to defend state crown
LaGrange dominated the paint and played stifling defense to cruise past Warren Easton 55-40 Wednesday night in a Class 4A semifinal in the girls state basketball tournament.
The Gators (25-1) advanced to the championship game for the second year in a row.
They will play Huntington for the state championship at 5 p.m. Friday in Hammond.
Jeriah Warren led LaGrange with 20 points and 14 rebounds while Deja Tanks added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Tanks went to the bench early after picking up two fouls in the first 5 minutes, but reserve forward McKenzie Shaw scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
“She is a big-time talent. I knew she was going to come out and play well tonight,” LaGrange head coach La’Keem Holmes said of Shaw. “She has talent. She can shoot. The sky is the limit for her.”
The Gators dominated the second quarter, outsourcing the Eagles 14-5 to take a nine-point halftime lead. Warren and Shaw scored six points each in the quarter. Warren finished the half with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Holmes said his seniors are leaving a legacy of winning and leadership at the school.
“Deja is a big-game hunter,” Holmes said. “Sometimes she gets overshadowed because we have such good guard play, but she is the heartbeat of the team. You can hear her cheering from the bench. She knows in big games there is no one to match up with her. Aasia is a great leader. All the younger players respect her and the seniors. I am spoiled to coach them.”
Warren Easton shot 26 percent from the floor in the first half. The Eagles made four 3-pointers in the first quarter, which ended tied at 12-12, but were 2 of 12 from the floor in the second quarter.
Breanna Sutton led the Eagles with 16 points, including 12 in the second half.
“We have been undersized all year, we lost a couple of players that could have helped us,” Warren Easton head coach Darius Mimms said. “They were long, athletic and bigger than us. We had problems playing a little cool. When you play a team that you don’t match up with you have to play with more intensity and we struggled with that today.”
Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press