The Live Oak High School girls basketball team posted a rare above-.500 record in coach Michele Yawn’s first season at the helm and made the playoffs for the first time in Class 5A.

But the most encouraging signs for Yawn that the Eagles are headed in the right direction may have come minutes after the season ended.

In the wake of a 48-44 overtime loss at West Monroe on Feb. 18 in the first round of the playoffs, Yawn said the Live Oak locker room was full of heartbroken players with tears in their eyes.

“That’s encouraging to me. That shows me they’re disappointed,” Yawn said, “and that’s when you start working hard. You start to say, ‘I don’t want to feel this again.’ ”

Live Oak, a No. 26 seed, nearly upset No. 7-seed West Monroe in what would have been one of the most surprising scores of the first round.

The Eagles (16-15) led by as much as seven points in the fourth quarter before West Monroe rallied to force overtime. Live Oak’s Presley Wascom had a game-high 22 points.

Even in a losing effort, Yawn’s team continued to build on a season that saw the Eagles gain steam late in the year.

Consider that Live Oak went 0-5 through the first half of its District 4-5A schedule with those five losses coming by an average of 16.2 points, then went 2-3 in the second half of district play with the three losses coming by an average of only 8.8 points.

“I definitely think it was a mindset,” Yawn said. “It’s one thing to say it over and over, but it’s another thing for them to believe they’re as good as I kept telling them.”

Yawn must replace four seniors — all starters — next year, but Presley returns as the leading scorer and will be joined by a strong group of returning underclassmen.

While the Eagles saw their season end, three other Livingston Parish teams picked up wins in the first round and were set to continue their playoff runs Monday night in the second round.

Denham Springs, seeded fifth in 5A, held off No. 28-seed Sulphur 48-40 in a game the Yellow Jackets trailed early in the fourth quarter. Denham earned a trip to face No. 21-seed Pineville with the win.

In 3A, No. 6-seed Albany beat No. 27-seed Avoyolles 77-55 to set up a Monday home game against Richwood. Mahogany Williams had 19 points to lead the Hornets.

Doyle, No. 15 seed, advanced in 2A with a 64-48 win against No. 18-seed Notre Dame, sending the Tigers into a second-round matchup with district rival St. Thomas Aquinas.

Holden, a No. 4 seed, had a first-round bye in the Class B playoffs and was scheduled to begin its postseason run at home Monday with a second-round matchup against No. 13-seed Hathaway.

Meanwhile, Walker, French Settlement and Maurepaus joined Live Oak as teams to fall in the first round.

Albany boys win district

The Albany boys basketball team clinched its second straight 7-3A championship by avenging a Feb. 2 loss to Amite with a dramatic 48-46 road win over the Warriors.

Dylan Hoyt gave Albany a one-point lead in the regular-season finale with a 3-pointer in the final minute. A free throw by Sean Sykes, who had a team-high 13 points, provided the final margin.

With the win, the Hornets were in line to host a playoff game in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.

Albany (20-11 overall, 6-2 in 7-3A) sat at No. 11 in the LHSAA’s final posting of unofficial power ratings and would learn its fate Monday afternoon when the playoff pairings were released.

In 5A, Walker (22-9) and Denham Springs (17-13) were both expecting playoff berths as well.

Walker was listed at No. 16 in the power ratings going into Monday’s pairings announcement and was expected to earn a first-round home game despite being swept by Denham during the district season.

Denham Springs had an unofficial power rating of No. 20, meaning the Yellow Jackets would have to travel, after losing two games in district play to 4-5A champion Scotlandville but winning the other eight.

Davis wins indoor shot put

Live Oak’s Ashley Davis led Livingston Parish participants in the state indoor track meet held Saturday at LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House.

Davis took top honors in the shot put with a throw of 43 feet, 1¼ inches, outdistancing second-place Loren James of Baton Rouge High (42-8½ ) and third-place Kristian Jackson of Zachary (40-9½ ).

Denham Springs’ Abigail O’Donoghue placed third in the high jump with a mark of 5-5.

Scott Hotard covers sports for The Livingston-Tangipahoa Advocate. He can be contacted at shotard44@gmail.com or livingston@theadvocate.com.