LAKE CHARLES — For the second-straight season, North Central has advanced to the Class 1A state championship game by defeating Arcadia.
In last season’s semifinal, the Canes edged the Hornets 61-58 to earn a berth in the title game. This time around it wasn’t nearly as close as North Central used a dominating third quarter to blow out Arcadia 56-40 on Tuesday night at Burton Coliseum.
North Central will face Vermilion Catholic or White Castle in Saturday’s title game held at 2 p.m.
“I think the girls executed the plan well,” North Central coach Vanessa Taylor said. “They had a hard time dealing with our pressure.”
Arcadia (26-5) struggled against North Central’s press defense. The Hornets shot 25.5 percent from the field for the game, including 17 percent in the first half, while turning over the ball 28 times.
“We were a little nervous,” Arcadia coach Ruby Smith Qualls said. “They are more of an aggressive team. Everything we said they would do they did.”
“The pressure wasn’t pressure really,” Arcadia junior guard Khelsea Foster said. “It was just bad passes.”
Despite those shooting woes, Arcadia only trailed 19-15 at halftime but then North Central (29-3) woke up in the second half or more accurately Jazlyn Robertson woke up.
After being held to five points in the first half, the senior forward scored nine of the Canes first 13 points of the half, including the first six. Robertson led all players with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
That helped North Central start the third on a 14-0 run as they seized control and coasted to a 16-point win.
“Jaz had to understand she was a beast,” Taylor said. “I just had to remind her.”
For Arcadia, who was looking to reach its first title game since 2011, the start of the second half was too damaging to recover from.
“Usually that is our game,” Qualls said. “We usually come out strong in the third and fourth quarters. We just couldn’t get that going.”
In addition to Robertson, North Central was led by Quaniqua Joseph who scored 15 points and Sydney Martin who chipped in 14. Foster paced Arcadia with 13.
After the horn sounded to end the game, the Canes did not celebrate the victory on the court. The team has larger aspirations like bringing home the school’s first state championship in any sport.
Said Martin, “We got one more game in us.”