No. 11-seeded Breaux Bridge made third-seeded Karr sweat for the second time in a Class 4A quarterfinal Saturday night in New Orleans.
But the opportunistic Cougars managed to finish off the Tigers 52-41 and advance to the semifinals, where they meet No. 2 Salmen, which defeated Rayne 51-48.
The semifinal game in the Top 28 state tournament will be 2:45 p.m. Thursday at Lake Charles’ Burton Coliseum.
Karr narrowly escaped with a Class 4A playoff win for the second time after defeating Huntington in the regional round of the playoffs.
With 1:12 remaining in the Huntington game, the Cougars nursed a 42-39 cushion over the Raiders. The game was capped with two buckets — both from Karr — as they fended off Huntington 46-39 to book a date for the quarterfinals.
But like Thursday, Karr never faltered.
“We definitely had some mistakes,” Karr coach Jessica Barber said. “Usually when that happens, and we start missing free throws, we begin to hang our heads low, but that wasn’t the case. I saw some amazing leadership tonight,” .
“Our girls played well, and they kept each other pumped up. I don’t know what our stats are, but Chante Simmons was the difference in the ball game for us tonight.”
Simmons finished with just six points, but she made some critical plays down the stretch for the Cougars. So did Paige Williams. The forward scored a team-high 18 points and orchestrated a third-quarter surge that saw Karr’s lead balloon from 22-20 to 42-30.
“She played within herself and within the team. It was a quiet 18 points, but she picked her spots,” Barber said.
“She worked hard for her buckets. She didn’t force anything. A lot of it came from strong rebounds. Some good looks also opened up from her she took them with confidence and made her free throws. She attacked the rim.”
Conversely, that’s when Breaux Bridge stumbled. They converted the first two baskets off the period within 30 seconds, but finished with just six points the remainder of quarter.
“My girls just lost focus, overall,” Tigers coach Chana Jordan said.
“Because of the crowd and the intensity of the match, I think the girls kind of lost a bit of their focus and it’s difficult to regain as the game progresses. That led to us missing some shots in key moments down the stretch.”
Breaux Bridge’s Jasmine Leblanc poured in 16 points to go along with teammate Caitlin Davis’ 15, but the duo received extra attention that bogged them down. That stymied Breaux Bridge, as the Tigers couldn’t create much offense or establish a rhythm.
“Defensively, we went to a triangle-and- two,” Barber said. “We weren’t going to go down without pulling every trick out of our bag. So, we tried our best to take the two kids that were making the biggest difference out of the game.
“That became our offense, I think, and we increased our lead.”