Lee Magnet High has already boldly gone where its girls basketball program has never gone before. But can they finish?
That's just one key question as the fourth-seeded Patriots (26-8) face No. 3 Ursuline Academy (23-3) in the Division II title game set for 4 p.m. Friday at the LHSAA girls basketball tournament.
“I expect this one to be just like the last game we played — a fight to the finish,” Lee coach Valencia Wilson. “You’ve got two teams with good guards and post players that are well coached. We’re not going to give up. We’ll keep coming at them, just as I am sure they will come at us.”
A year after bowing out in the Division III semifinals in its first tourney appearance, Lee knocked off top-seeded University High 59-54 in overtime Tuesday night at the Rapides Parish Coliseum.
Are the Patriots ready for back-to-back pressure-packed LHSAA tourney games? And how will they handle an experienced Ursuline team led by point guard Kourtney Weber, a Florida State signee? Ursuline won the Class 4A title two seasons and was a Division II semifinalist last season.
Wilson and her team said they're ready for both challenges because the Lions of New Orleans technically are not an unknown. Lee lost to Ursuline 56-44 in a U-High tournament game on Dec. 23.
“I guess the biggest difference between the two teams is that (Weber) is expected to score,” Wilson said. “She is an outstanding point guard … a game-changer. You can tell she is in charge on the floor. With us, you never know. It is usually a different person every night. That is our strength, that and the fact that we have grown into being a family.”
The Patriots illustrated their coach's points in their come-from-behind semifinal win. Diamond Hunter scored 13 of her team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Hunter averages 18.9 points per game, with Iviona Hatch (12.8 ppg) and Reagan Williams (10.2) behind her in scoring average.
Weber, who missed last season with a knee injury, had 18 points to lead the Lions in their 57-28 semifinal win over Loyola. The potential for a matchup on the block looms with Lee’s 6-foot-6 Makya Spears and Ursuline's 6-3 Kennedi Jackson.
Ursuline coach Andrea Williams discounts the outcome of the December game, but concedes that the matchup is an intriguing one.
“Friday it's 0-0 and we are going to play like we never played that (first) game,” Williams said. “They press, press, press. The athleticism may be a challenge but I think we match up with them position for position. Whoever wants it more is going to get it.”