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Lady Saints win South State title

RAYVILLE, La. — Trinity Episcopal has won the majority of their games this season with tenacious defense and the scoring of Madelyn Cross and Bethany Ogden.

And while defense was a key factor in the Lady Saints’ 38-31 win over Riverdale Academy Saturday afternoon in the girls’ championship game of the MAIS Class A South State Tournament at Riverfield Academy, it was more than just Cross and Ogden hitting big shots.

It was Margaret Ward and Sarah Bryan and Rosie Woods who stepped up while the Lady Rebels were trying to key on Trinity’s two leading scorers.

Cross finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots while Ogden scored seven points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Ward and Bryan scored six points each and Woods added four points for Trinity Episcopal, the No. 1 team in Class A and the District 6-A champion — and now Class A South State champion for the first time since the 2006-2007 season.

“Everyone stepped up. We had some baskets at big times. It wasn’t just an Ogden-and-Cross night. They usually do (most of) the scoring. We had some others step up and make some baskets. That allowed us to open things for them,” Lady Saints head coach Richy Spears said.

“It feels pretty good, but we’ve got the other one we’re looking for.”

That “other one” he is referring to is the Class A state championship. The state tournament takes place at Benton Academy in Benton and starts Monday. The Lady Saints will be the South No. 1 seed.

In a game that was similar to the two regular-season meetings between the two teams — both won by Trinity by margins of nine points each – it was once again a close, low-scoring, defensive-minded game. And once again, it was the Lady Saints who prevailed.

“Both of us are going to pressure man to man,” Spears said about his team and Riverdale. “We hustled the whole time. Defensively, we played really well. We cut off the drives to the baskets and got to the shooters and we hemmed their big girl, Melissa Savell, who’s about 6-1, 6-2. It was a total team effort.”

Trinity (25-8) led Riverdale 11-10 at the end of the first quarter. The 11 points by Trinity and the 10 by Riverdale were the most points each team scored in any of the four quarters.

The Lady Saints held the Lady Rebels to single-digit scoring in each of the final three quarters. By halftime, the Lady Saints were ahead 19-17. At the end of three quarters, they led 29-25. Then in the fourth quarter, Trinity outscored Riverdale 9-6.

“They hit a couple of 3s early. Once they did that, we defended them,” Spears said. “I told them before the game if we held them to 30 points, we would win. They scored 31 and we won.”

District 7-A champion and third-ranked Riverdale (23-6) was led by Taylor Giddings with 12 points and Kallie Bethard with 11 points, but Savell rarely got to take a shot and was held to just five points.

Six players from this game alone were named to the all-tournament team — Cross, Ogden and Woods from Trinity; Giddings, Savell and Morgan Garrett from Riverdale.

Ferriday 47, Lake Providence 40

LAKE PROVIDENCE, La. — After having to deal with two delays – one because of a referees’ association strike and the other because of the recent winter storm – Ferriday and Lake Providence finally played each other in the District 2-2A finale.

And while the game was not important for district standings – Lake Providence had already won the district championship and Ferriday was locked in at second place – this game was played for pride, bragging rights and, last but not least, the Lady Trojans having a chance to keep the Lady Panthers from running the table in the district.

But Ferriday decided not to go with its usual up-tempo style of offense against Lake Providence. Instead, the Lady Trojans did just the opposite to frustrate the Lady Panthers – and it worked. Led by Chanta Poole and T’Keyah Fletcher, Ferriday stunned Lake Providence on its home court for the first time since its state championship team back in the 2001-2002 season.

“We had a plan to kind of play a different style that we’re not used to. We like to play up-tempo. They like to play up-tempo. We practiced all week playing a slow-down offense. We didn’t want to get in a running game with them,” Lady Trojans head coach Lisa Abron said.

Poole led all scorers with 27 points and Fletcher ended up with 11 points for Ferriday, which improved to 14-12 overall and finished district play with a 6-2 record. The Lady Trojans won their last seven games of the regular season, including six in a row in the district after an 0-2 start.

So the Lady Trojans decided to spread the ball around, which not only meant a lot of passing but it forced the Lady Panthers to come out from the inside to try to defend them. What it ended up doing was allow Ferriday to make a lot of lay-ups and get to the free-throw line more than it usually does.

“They have some tall players, so when they did, they were out of position. We were quicker than they were,” Abron said. “They did a lot of fouling and we made a lot of free throws. It really threw them off. It worked to our advantage. We wanted to show them that we weren’t going to run with them.”

The first quarter should have given Lake Providence the hint that this wasn’t going to be a game in which it was going to score in the 60s or 70s. It ended with the Lady Panthers leading 4-3. But then the Lady Trojans started to take over in the second quarter as they outscored the Lady Panthers 16-12 to take a 19-16 lead into halftime.

Lake Providence (14-8, 7-1) was not able to sustain any type of a rally in the second half. Instead, Ferriday continued to control the pace of the game. The Lady Trojans put up 15 points in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth while the Lady Panthers scored just 12 points in each quarter.

The Lady Panthers were led by Keisha Toston with 17 points and Joslyn Allen with 13 points.

“Huge win for us. It’s all about bragging rights. We earned it,” Abron said. “We’ll know Monday who we have in the first round of the (Class 2A) playoffs.”

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