HARVEY — Acadiana girls basketball coach Nic Jeffers said he’s been waiting for a signature moment for his program.
The Rams finally enjoyed such an instance.
No. 23 Acadiana outscored homestanding No. 10 Helen Cox 16-6 in the third quarter for a lead it would not relinquish, going on to a 54-43 upset win Thursday in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
Acadiana (17-14) will host No. 7 Natchitoches Central, an 82-71 winner over Scotlandville, in Monday’s regional round.
“This is huge,” Jeffers said. “We have been trying to get over the hump for the last two years.
“It feels good to finally get this burden off of us and now go back home to play in front of our fans for the first playoff game at Acadiana since around 2006.”
Paige Francis scored 21 points to lead Acadiana with Zariyah Hollier adding 12.
“Paige has been pretty steady all year for us,” Jeffers said.
“We turned up the intensity in the second half, especially defensively. We started doing some of the things we wanted to do.”
Helen Cox (25-6), a Top 28 team a year ago, led 25-24 at halftime, but Acadiana surged ahead 40-31 going into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars closed to within 45-41 with 2:46 left but couldn’t get any closer, thanks in part to 7 of 21 shooting from the free throw line.
RAYNE 62, URSULINE 45: In Rayne,junior Charlesha Dugas’ game-high 21 points provided Rayne with one of three double-figures scorers in its Class 4A first-round state playoff win.
Cierra Harmon and Tristan Mouton added 10 points apiece for the No. 7 Wolves (24-6), who will host No. 10 St. Thomas More, a 56-32 winner over Beau Chene, in Monday’s regional round.
Center Whitley Larry scored seven points and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Rayne jumped out to a 23-10 first-quarter lead and extended that to 36-14 at halftime.
The Lady Wolves limited Ursuline (14-15) to 39 percent shooting and forced 27 turnovers.
NOTRE DAME 53, ERATH 34: In Crowley, the third and final game between District 6-3A foes went to Notre Dame, which outscored Erath 16-6 in the fourth quarter.
The No. 11 Lady Pioneers (20-8) advanced to Monday’s regional round to face No. 6 E.D. White in Thibodaux at 6:30 p.m.
Madelyn LeJeune led Notre Dame with 22 points and Hannah Esthay, who knocked down four of the team’s seven 3-pointers, added 16.
Gabby Harrington paced No. 22 Erath (14-12) with 15 points and Alexis Lege chipped in with 10.
MADISON PREP 65, SACRED HEART 33: In Baton Rouge, No. 11 seed Madison Prep proved no match for No. 22 Sacred Heart, opening a 35-14 halftime advantage and never looking back.
The Trojans (13-12) were led by Hannah Lemoine’s eight points.