Lady Terriers escape Ellender with 41-40 win


Vandebilt Catholic's Sade' Murrell (center) battles Ellender's Brienna Butler (33) and Kiara Jones (35) for possession of the ball during Tuesday's District 8-4A game in Houma. The Lady Terriers improved to 4-0 in district with a 41-40 win. (Photo by Benjamin Oliver Hicks/Staff)


Ellender had one final shot to tie and send Tuesday's District 8-4A showdown against rival Vandebilt Catholic into overtime.

Trailing by three points with 12 seconds left, the Lady Patriots forced a turnover and gained possession for a potential game-tying shot.

The Lady Patriots got a shot off and made it in the final seconds, but it wasn't the one they needed.

Amari Banks hit a running shot in the paint for Ellender with 5.2 seconds left to make it a one-point game, forcing the Lady Patriots to quickly foul with 1.4 seconds left.

But when Vandebilt's Laci LeBlanc missed the first of a 1-and-1 free throw attempt, time quickly expired as the Lady Terriers escaped with a 41-40 victory at Ellender.

Ellender coach Kenneth Dixon, who was pleased with his team's performance against one of the state's top teams in Vandebilt, said the final shot was designed to be a 3-point attempt to tie it. Banks went for the quick score, and Dixon said they didn't have enough time left to recover.

"I just think we made a few crucial mistakes at times, but I'm very proud of how well we played," Dixon said. "They showed me some fight and confidence. I'm extremely happy with the way we performed."

Vandebilt (20-3 overall, 4-0 in district) remained perfect in 8-4A play, but Lady Terriers coach Kathy Luke said they had to work for every bit of the win, as the showdown with the Lady Patriots (13-5, 3-1 in district) featured 10 ties and nine lead changes.

Vandebilt led 16-15 at the end of the first quarter, but Ellender rallied to take leads of 24-22 at halftime and 34-32 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Vandebilt got key steals and transition baskets from its two senior guards in LeBlanc (13 points) and Shakira Harding (10 points) to get the close win.

"Anytime it is a Vandebilt versus Ellender matchup, it's going to be a good game," Luke said. "I expected it to be a close game. They've got good young players. They are young, and we are a little bit more experienced. We knew their weaknesses. We didn't capitalize on their weaknesses until late in the ball game, but when we finally forced the issue and did some things we intended to do, we got a couple of steals and easy buckets."

LeBlanc, who scored seven of her 13 points in the fourth quarter, hit one of two free throws to make it 41-38 with 1:59 left. Neither team scored again until Banks' shot in the final seconds.

LeBlanc said the Lady Terriers expected a close battle with Ellender, but she felt their experience was the difference.

"We just had to come together, work hard and fight to the end," LeBlanc said. "We just needed to push and fight. We are so used to coming back in the second half. We just knew that we had to work hard for it. (Ellender) did bring out their ‘A' game, and we just fought through it." Luke said Ellender, which got 13 points from Skye Jasper and 12 points from Banks, gave the Lady Terriers fits with its man defense. Vandebilt, which plays undefeated nondistrict foe Warren Easton (21-0) in New Orleans on Thursday, trailed by as many as five points in the second half and committed 14 turnovers.

"Give Ellender a lot of credit for their game plan," Luke said. "They surprised me coming out man-to-man. We had been working on the zone. I want to give our kids credit because they were down, and they did come back. I don't think we've played our best basketball, but Ellender had a lot to do with that. Even though we had some adversity, we were able to get the lead, hold on to the lead and win the game."

Although they fell one point short of beating Vandebilt for the first time since the 2007-08 season, Dixon said his young squad is starting to get hot at the right time of the season.

"They really wanted to beat Vandebilt," Dixon said. "They've been doing well. They are growing in leaps and bounds. I think they are getting more comfortable with the system now. They are just getting out there with more confidence, so we are just going to come back and go harder next time."

VANDEBILT CATHOLIC 70, ELLENDER 60 (BOYS)

At Ellender's gym in Houma, the Patriots and Terriers were engaged in a competitive affair for three quarters, but Vandebilt used a fourth quarter run to pull away from its District 8-4A rivals.

Vandebilt (16-6, 4-0 in 8-4A) led 16-9 after the first quarter and 33-23 at halftime, but Ellender used a big run to cut the score to 42-41 at the end of the third quarter.

With the game tied at 50 with 6 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Terriers used a 20-10 run to win.

Lionheart Leslie led Vandebilt with 28 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Elijah McGuire recorded a triple-double with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists for the Terriers, and Tanner Whatley scored 13 points.

"Ellender was playing hard and they were making plays and getting stops," Vandebilt coach Henry Washington said. "They outplayed us in third quarter. In the fourth quarter, both teams started trading buckets when we called a time out. We set up our 2-3 zone, and that got us started. Once we got a comfortable lead, we started to take control."

Cameron Parfait led Ellender (11-10, 2-2 in 8-4A) with 26 points, while Justin Johnson had 19 points and Eric Welch added nine points.

"We started out slow in the game, which hurt us," Ellender coach Cornell Scott said. "We were able to put ourselves back in the game, but mental mistakes, turnovers and missed assignments cost us a lead we should have had. We let them take one here (Tuesday)."

MORGAN CITY 55, ASSUMPTION 28 (BOYS)

At Morgan City, the Tigers improved to 12-9 overall and 2-2 in District 8-4A, and Assumption fell to 3-18 and 0-4 in district.

ASSUMPTION 75, MORGAN CITY 32 (GIRLS)

At Morgan City, the Lady Mustangs got 21 points from Keverion Ward, 16 points from Tiah Larvadain and 12 points from Yasmin Jacobs in improving to 12-9 overall and 2-2 in District 8-4A.

Assumption led 20-5 after the first quarter, 39-13 at halftime and 60-23 at the end of the third quarter. Morgan City fell to 1-3 in district.

SOUTH TERREBONNE 68, COVENANT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 52 (BOYS)

At Bourg, the Gators improved to 6-13 overall with the nondistrict victory. Tyrone Smith led the South Terrebonne with 20 points, Chandler Arceneaux had 12 and Damian Charles and Patrick Wilson each added 10 points.

The Gators led 14-8 after the first quarter, 35-18 at halftime and 52-32 at the end of the third quarter.

Covenant Christian fell to 12-4.

SOUTH TERREBONNE 50, COVENANT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 6 (GIRLS)

At Bourg, the Lady Gators improved to 4-11 with the nondistrict victory and got 15 points from Breon Lyons, 10 points from Blare Pellegrin and eight points from Monet Cox.

Iesha Waller had three points for CCA (1-14).

HOUMA CHRISTIAN 56, ECOLE CLASSIQUE 15 (BOYS)

At Metairie, the Warriors, ranked seventh in Class 1A, improved to 11-8 overall and 3-1 in District 10-1A.

The Warriors got 16 points from Drake Battaglia, 12 points from Nate Frye and nine points each from Keamon Sims and Guy Campbell.

The Warriors led 10-6 after the first quarter, 31-6 at halftime and 46-8 at the end of the third quarter.

HOUMA CHRISTIAN 50, ECOLE CLASSIQUE 5 (GIRLS)

At Metairie, the Lady Warriors led 20-1 after the first quarter, 32-3 at halftime and 38-3 at the end of the third quarter. Heather Naquin led Houma Christian (5-5, 2-2 in District 10-1A) with 10 points, Alicia Johnson had seven and Faith Pierce and Jada Ward each added six.

 

— Compiled by sports writer Kelly McElroy.