Carencro girls basketball coach Keesha Sices said her team cleared a significant mental hurdle just in time for the start of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Less than a month after losing by six points at St. Thomas More, the Bears returned the favor last week and stopped the Cougars’ run of perfection through District 4-4A with a 59-57 overtime victory.

The residual effects of the game didn’t stop there with Carencro taking a 61-43 victory over Northside to finish second in the league. The 13th-seeded Bears (16-7) also extended their win streak to five games going into Thursday’s home playoff game against No. 20 Minden (19-11) at 6 p.m.

“All I heard was (STM) was No. 1 (in the power rankings) and had won 10 games in a row,” Sices said. “A couple of the girls said they were scared because we’d lost to them the first time. Once they won that game, they felt like they were on top of the world. That fueled the fire for the Northside game.”

Sices is hoping that flame doesn’t flicker any time soon.

Carencro gained valuable postseason experience a year ago, advancing to the Class 5A regionals where it lost to Mount Carmel 75-55. Minden, which has lost three of its past four games, tied for fourth in District 1-4A.

The Bears plan to rely on their trademark pressure defense to compensate for their lack of size. Sophomore Chrissy Brown, 5-foot-8, is the team’s tallest player.

Brown and sophomore guard-forward Ava Jones are both averaging 13 to 15 points, Sices said.

“Size and heart are two different things, and it’s the size of the heart is what matters,” Sices said. “We’re going to do exactly what we’ve been doing. We’re just going to work harder and not take anything for granted.”

RETOOLED NEW IBERIA ON THE ROAD: A year after a magical run to the Class 5A state semifinals, No. 24 New Iberia (15-14) finds itself traveling to No. 9 Covington (22-8) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

It’s a tribute to a team that graduated four seniors, included three seniors highlighted by all-stater Kierra Anthony, now a freshman at Louisiana Tech.

“Coming into the season we felt good about our team, but we also knew their roles would be different and they struggled adapting to those roles,” New Iberia coach Robert Pinckney said. “As of late, the girls have been playing well and kind of made a turn.”

Junior point guard Taylor Jacob and senior guard Alexis Jones were returning starters, but New Iberia had to deal with the loss of Jacob for more than a month in December because of a concussion.

The Yellow Jackets went 1-4 during a two-tournament stretch at Walker and West Monroe without Jacob, which included a 50-39 setback against Covington.

NISH was also without the services of two other players because of disciplinary issues against Covington, Pinckney said.

The Yellow Jackets finished with wins over Sulphur and Lafayette to finish in a tie for the District 3-5A runner-up spot behind Barbe.

Reserve guard Morgan Carrier averages 12.2 points to lead the team followed by Jacob (8.6) and reserve guard Bailey Antoine (8.1).

“We feel good now that we have our complete team,” Pinckney said. “The girls are playing with a little confidence. They’re looking forward to making another strong run like we did last year.”