Role reversal for Gators, Warren Easton Defending champ, LaGrange supplants Eagles as gold standard
A few years back, when LaGrange started to build its girls basketball program into the powerhouse it is now, head coach LaKeem Holmes said he saw Warren Easton as the gold standard.
Warren Easton made five appearances in the state final from 2014 to 2020, winning three state championships.
“We when first started, we knew we wanted to be on their level,” Holmes said.
Now, the Gators (24-1) are the defending Class 4A champion and will face the Eagles (20-7) in the semifinals the state tournament for a second consecutive year. LaGrange beat the Eagles 46-31 in last year’s final. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. today at the Burton Coliseum.
“We have been playing Warren Easton for a while,” Holmes said. “We are real familiar.
“Me and their coach (Darius Mimms) both went to the same high school (St. Augustine). With them being one of the top programs in the state, we knew eventually we would have to play them. We look forward to the matchup.”
In the other 4A semifinal, No. 2 Huntington (25-2) will face No. 3 Neville (22-2) at 5 p.m.
It is the fifth meeting in the last three seasons between the two powerhouse 4A teams. LaGrange won the previous four, including a 49-43 victory earlier this season at the Walker tournament.
“We started up 12-0 (at Walker tournament), then they went up by 10, and we ended up winning by six,” Holmes said. “It was a back-and-forth game.”
Both teams have guards who are bound for Louisiana-Monroe in LaGrange’s Aasia Sam and Warren Easton’s Breanna Sutton.
“They have a college guard and a lot of pieces around her,” Holmes said. “(Sutton and Sam) are built similar. Breanna is more of a penetrator while our guard shoots the ball a little better. They are about the same size and height.”
Holmes stressed limiting turnovers and defense.
“We have to not turn the ball over and close out on their shooters,” Holmes. “We don’t need to get into a shooting match with them.
“They are a real athletic team and shoot the ball well from the outside. We need to wall up when the Sutton girl penetrates and make sure that we are closing out with high hands and we will be fine.”
LaGrange has three players who have state tournament experience in Sam, Jeriah Warren and Deja Tanks, but the rest of the lineup is getting their first taste.
“We have three that played in this game last year, but other than those three, everyone else is new,” Holmes said. “They are nervous and excited. It will be a different type of game, but we have what it takes.”
Rick Hickman / American Press