HAMMOND — It was glimmer of hope Iota’s girls spent the better part of three quarters searching for.
Despite a subpar shooting performance and getting outrebounded, the Lady Bulldogs were on the cusp of their first lead against Parkview Baptist with a strong start to the fourth quarter.
“I had five of my girls playing basketball,” Iota coach Meghann LeJeune said. “When we were on that run, I had all five of them boxing out.”
Parkview’s leading scorer Skylar Goodwin, who was on the bench, returned to fend off Iota’s charge and send No. 4 Parkview Baptist to a 59-45 victory Wednesday in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 Tournament.
Parkview (25-10) advances to its first state championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday against No. 2 Jewel Sumner, a 67-43 winner over University High.
“We struggled offensively,” LeJeune said. “We usually shoot the ball really well. We didn’t shoot well and take advantage of the options they gave us.”
Parkview took advantage of its power and strength inside, outrebounding Iota 40-29.
However, the Eagles also relied on their length on the perimeter to force the Bulldogs (27-6) to shoot 29.4 percent from the field.
Moreover, Iota was just 3-of-23 (13 percent) from 3-point range.
“We just rushed everything,” LeJeune said. “I can chalk it up to jitters and nerves, but after a quarter you would think you’d get settled in.”
Goodwin scored 21 of her game-high 31 points in the second half, including a key stretch of seven consecutive points after Iota closed to within 36-34 at the 6:36 mark of the fourth quarter.
It was the closest the Bulldogs had been since the game was tied at 3 in the first two minutes.
Goodwin converted on three straight drives to the basket, the second of which included a free throw to complete a three-point play to lead the Eagles on a 23-11 run.
“I definitely felt we were going to get back and start beating,” Iota senior Cambre St. Andre, who led her team with 20 points. “We didn’t have that fight that we’ve always had. It’s like we came up scared. We played scared the whole entire game and made dumb decisions.”
LeJeune and St. Andre pointed to early foul trouble that sidelined leading scorer Whitney Landry and contributed to the team’s early trouble in overcoming deficits of 14-7 after the first quarter and 25-18 at halftime.
Parkview, which shot 43 percent, built leads of 23-11 with two minutes left in the second quarter and 31-20 midway through the third quarter. The Eagles took advantage of foul difficulty against starting guards Madeline Gatte and Becca Fantroy, who both fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“Them fouling out was crazy,” St. Andre said. “We needed them in this game.”