Winning a state championship in girls basketball is a big deal.
Holden coach Pam Forbes received another reminder on the day after the Lady Rockets defeated Florien in the Class B title game when she checked her Facebook account.
“I woke up Saturday morning and had 26 new friend requests,” Forbes said, laughing. “I’ve never had 26 people want to be my friend.”
Such was life for Forbes and her players in the afterglow of their 42-34 win to secure the school’s first state championship since 2006 and fifth state title overall.
On Sunday, the Lady Rockets rode through the small Livingston Parish town they call home on the back of firetrucks during a victory parade, then cut down the nets in the Holden gym and posed for pictures alongside their families with the state championship trophy in hand.
The victory anthem that is Queen’s “We are the Champions” played on loop.
“We’re still in the honeymoon stage of it, just enjoying the moment,” Forbes said Monday morning.
The Lady Rockets returned from Hammond with Class B’s top prize three years after Forbes and her husband, Craig, returned to the Holden sidelines. They previously had coached the team to three other state titles.
Continuing the parish’s reputation as a hotbed for girls basketball, Holden earned Livingston its 16th state championship in the sport.
Denham Springs nearly joined the Lady Rockets in what would have been a nightlong celebration for Livingston in the University Center, but the Yellow Jackets fell to Mount Carmel 59-48 in the Class 5A championship game that followed the B final.
Nonetheless, Forbes said having two parish teams play for state titles on the same night made for a memorable experience.
“All I could see was purple the whole night,” Forbes said, citing the team color Denham and Holden share.
Holden reached the matchup with Florien on Friday by upsetting unbeaten and nationally ranked Lacassine earlier in the week.
Three Lady Rockets scored in double digits against Lacassine, with Kaylee Hughes scoring 18 points, Sydney Hayden following with 17 and Kaitlyn Kropog adding 15. The 66-54 win avenged two losses to Lacassine early in the season.
In the championship game, Kropog had a team-high 13 points to earn Outstanding Player honors. Sydney Hayden had a stellar night all around as she scored eight points to go with 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Florien led 21-13 before Holden went on a game-changing 19-0 run that began late in the second quarter.
Holden finished 26-6 after winning 16 of its final 18 games.
“This group of kids, they just kept winning,” Forbes said. “We were kind of hoping to make a run. Every game, they just got better and better.”
Denham Springs (30-4) took a similar route to the 5A title game as the Yellow Jackets lost only two of their final 26 games.
A year after missing the playoffs, Denham upset No. 1 seed Mandeville 47-35 in the semifinals to reach the 5A title game for the first time under longtime coach Shelly Laprarie.
Against Mandeville, Denham held the Skippers to 20.8 percent shooting. Mandeville star Elise Reilly had 18 points on 6-of-30 shooting.
But in the championship game against Mount Carmel, the Yellow Jackets fell in an early 7-0 hole and never could fight their way back. Lexi McMorris scored 20 points for Denham, and Caroline Taylor added 17 in the losing effort. Kristen Nuss (20 points) and Megan Donaldson (18) combined for 38 points as Mount Carmel, which ended Denham’s season in the semifinals two years ago, won its second state title in three seasons.
Looking ahead to next season, Forbes said the Livingston Parish tournament in December is a week area fans should go ahead and mark on the calendar.
Holden loses only two seniors and has a solid nucleus returning. McMorris is graduating, but the Yellow Jackets had no other seniors this year.
Albany reached the 3A quarterfinals with only one senior in its starting five.
“My husband and I take a lot of pride in coaching in Livingston Parish because it’s known for girls basketball,” Forbes said. “That’s just the reputation our parish has.”
Albany, Doyle lose in second round
In the boys playoffs, Albany and Doyle both had their seasons end in the second round.
No. 11 seed Albany suffered a 66-45 loss to Carroll in 3A as the Hornets fell on the road in the second round for the second straight year. Dylan Hoyt had 11 points to lead the Hornets.
Albany lost at Evangel in the second round last season.
In 2A, No. 20 seed Doyle fell to North Caddo 67-42 after beating Welsh in a first-round road game.
Ryan Guillory had 15 points for Doyle. Tristan Jones followed with 10.