During her playing days at Iota, current Lady Bulldogs coach Meghann LeJeune was an undersized post player accustomed to battling and succeeding against bigger players.
In preparation for Iota’s Class 3A state semifinal against Parkview Baptist, LeJeune has drawn on her past experiences and passed them along to her team that’s facing a sizable challenge of its own.
“My girls are bulldogs; they don’t see that,” LeJeune said of a size disadvantage. “They don’t worry about it. They feel like they’re going to step up and get it done.”
No. 1 Iota (27-5) will get that opportunity at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday against No. 4 Parkview Baptist (24-10) at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 Tournament.
Parkview, which is making its first state tournament appearance, features a pair of post players in 6-foot senior Megan Hatch (10 points, 15 rebounds) and 5-10 junior forward Leah Collins (15 and 14) who are averaging double-doubles.
The Lady Eagles also have 5-10 senior guard-forward Morgan Douglas, who substitutes for either Hatch or Collins when necessary.
“If you believe, you’re going to make it happen,” LeJeune said. “We’re really stressing the importance of boxing out and rebounds just like the last game. You hope they realize how important that it is and really take care of business.”
Iota, which is making its 17th trip to the state tournament and first since 2012, counters with 5-9 junior forward Whitney Landry, the team’s leader with 14 points and seven rebounds per game, while guards Madeline Gatte and Avery Wriborg are 5-10 and 5-9.
Gatte is the Lady Bulldogs only other double-figures scorer at 12 points, followed by Wriborg at nine and Cambri St. Andre and Becca Fantroy at six apiece.
“What has helped us be successful is we play great team ball,” LeJeune said. “We don’t have one standout, and we’re going to have to prove that true. It’s going to take all five people and find (Parkview’s) weakness.”
While the overall size of Parkview’s inside game commands a lot of attention, Iota’s also devising a way to combat junior guard Skylar Goodwin, who averages 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the Lady Eagles’ up-tempo approach.
“They can hurt you inside and out,” LeJeune said. “It’s not going to be an easy feat, and all five of our players on the court will be working nonstop. Everyone’s going to have to be on their toes against this team.”
By comparison, the Lady Bulldogs will pick their spots when to run but favor a slower pace that will be predicated on defensive rebounding.
“They really like to win. They don’t like to lose at anything,” LeJeune said of her team. “We make our practices as competitive as anything. I’m competitive, and they’re the same way. Don’t tell them they can’t do something because it will make them want it even more.”