Block girls ready for Class 1A quarterfinals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 25, 2010

JONESVILLE — The Block Lady Bears might be the defending LHSAA Class 1A state champion, but the loss of several senior leaders from last year’s team made this year’s Block squad a brand new team.

But now that the playoffs are here, the Lady Bears are finding that old playoff magic and have used it to win their first two playoff games and advance to the quarterfinals as a No. 20 seed.

Block (16-14) will host No. 5 seed Southern Lab at 6 p.m. today with the winner advancing to the Top 28 Tournament at the University Center in Hammond, La.

Block head coach Kristi King said her young team took its lumps early in the year with a tough non-district schedule, but that has helped them on their march through the playoffs.

“We played a lot of bigger schools early on in the year,” King said. “Our record when district play started was 4-12. We didn’t play any 1A teams until we got to district. I knew we were better than a No. 20 seed, I just didn’t know how much better.”

Block has come alive in the playoffs, however, upsetting No. 13 seed St. Martin’s Episcopal 62-44 in the first round before beating No. 29 seed Varnado 58-54 in the second round.

King said a key reason for her team’s improved play is the leadership she is getting from senior Tyra Jefferson.

“We lost a lot of leadership from last year,” King said. “This team was more immature. They were led last year so they’ve had trouble stepping up and showing leadership.

“My senior (Jefferson) doesn’t like to be put in position to tell someone what to do. She’d rather stand back and go with the flow. But in the two playoff games, she stepped up with big leadership. It’s like when she gets excited, the four others on the floor with her get excited right behind her.”

Tonight’s game against Southern Lab is a rematch of last season’s state semifinal game, which Block won by nine points.

And Southern Lab, like the Lady Bears, lost a lot of talent from last year’s team.

“Their point guard was the Class 1A MVP last year,” King said. “They lost their big post player and their point guard. I figure we’re pretty evenly matched.”