LAFAYETTE — No. 10 St. Thomas More took the first step toward returning to the Top 28 with a 56-32 victory over No. 23 Beau Chene on Thursday.

STM, which advanced to the state semifinals last season, will face No. 7 Rayne in the Class 4A regional round of the playoffs Monday.

“For us, one of our goals is to get as far as we can in the playoffs,” STM coach Stephen Strojny said. “And we couldn’t do that until tonight.”

Bailey Hemphill got things started for the Cougars by scoring the team’s first five points, including a 3-pointer at the top of the key. STM (22-6) only scored 12 points in the opening period, but that was plenty as Beau Chene struggled offensively.

The Gators scored only four points and committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes.

“I told them that was going to be the difference,” Beau Chene coach Melanie Durio said. “We couldn’t have unforced turnovers, and that’s what we did tonight.”

As the turnovers piled up, Beau Chene (15-8) continued to struggle scoring points. The Gators didn’t record their first field goal of the second quarter until the 3:54 mark. Beau Chene didn’t reach double digits in scoring until sophomore Helena Tibbs made a free throw with 1:34 remaining in the first half. Tibbs led all scorers with 23 points.

Besides Tibbs only three other Beau Chene players scored, with Louisiana-Lafayette signee and post player Alex Weeks being held to only two points.

“Our game plan was to pressure them and not let them give the ball to the big girl down low,” Strojny said. “We want to have the other team turn over the ball 40 times.”

At halftime, STM held a comfortable 29-12 lead.

STM’s Allyson Howard opened up the third period by draining back-to-back 3-pointers. At the end of the third quarter, STM had extended its lead to 21 points and maintained a good cushion throughout the final quarter.

Megan Abrams led STM with 20 points and Hemphill added nine.

As STM gears up for the next round of play, Beau Chene meanwhile will deal with losing in the first round for the second straight season.

“You always want to end on something positive,” Durio said.

“They didn’t give up tonight. We just dug ourselves into too big of a hole.”