Madison Prep and University High took different routes to Saturday night’s final of the East Baton Rouge Parish girls basketball tournament.
Madison Prep had to fight off a Zachary comeback effort to pull away in the last six minutes to claim a 50-39 win in the first semifinal Friday at Belaire.
U-High trailed Scotlandville 14-11 after one quarter but dominated by a 25-6 margin in the second on its way to a 79-56 thrashing of Scotlandville in the second game.
The winners meet in the championship game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Belaire.
MADISON PREP 50, ZACHARY 39: Madison Prep got off to a blazing start but had to withstand a Zachary charge before pulling away with an 18-8 fourth-quarter margin.
The Lady Chargers used their full-court press and balanced scoring to open with a 14-4 lead. When Kennedi Green drained a 3-pointer at 4:17 of the first quarter, all of the Madison Prep starters had scored, and its press had forced five turnovers.
Zachary pulled within 19-16 before Madison Prep used a 9-0 run to forge a 28-20 halftime lead.
The Broncos took control in the third quarter behind their defense and the shooting of guard Rajah Haynes. Madison Prep began to turn the ball over, and Haynes outscored the Chargers 11-4 in the quarter. Zachary trailed by 32-31 going into the final quarter.
“(The Zachary comeback) was all about them,” Madison Prep coach Dwayne Hayes said. “They never stopped coming. We made some errors, but then we fought back. It was a team effort from the kids on the floor and the kids on the bench. They played hard.”
A Bryanna Langford basket gave Zachary its first lead with 6:01 left, but Sherry Porter went on a tear for the Chargers with 10 fourth-quarter points as they pulled away for the win.
Porter led Madison Prep with 18 points, followed by Alexis Augustus with 12. Haynes led Zachary with 15, and Jamecia Profit added nine.
UNIVERSITY HIGH 79, SCOTLANDVILLE 56: It took the Lady Cubs a while to get rolling, but once their offense started clicking behind seniors Destiny Ephrom, Chelsea Verrett and Kaila Anderson, they took control.
Scotlandville stayed close in the early going behind the scoring of Justice Coleman and Ry’Ashia Pope, but a 25-6 U-High surge in the second quarter was two much to overcome. Anderson had two 3-pointers and 10 points in the second quarter, and Ephrom had eight points.
Scotlandville got back on track in the second half but the damage had been done, and the Hornets had no answer for Ephrom inside and Verrett driving the lane.
Ephrom finished with 26 points, Verrett 20 and Anderson 14.
Double-figure scorers for the Hornets were Coleman with 19, Karlena Keller with 14 (10 of them coming in the second half) and Pope with 11.
U-High coach Bonita Johnson has her team looking forward to a rematch with the Lady Chargers in the final.
“We played them the first game of the season, and they won by five,” Johnson said. “I’m very happy with how we played tonight, with heart and intensity. Destiny is playing awesome. Terry Drake had nine rebounds tonight, and our young post players, Maya Marshall and Faith Kwentua, are stepping up and playing very well. I feel like we’re getting better every game.”
Belaire eased past Broadmoor 53-35 in an earlier consolation game.
Saturday’s schedule has Woodlawn playing Capitol at 3 p.m. for seventh place. McKinley meets Belaire for fifth place in the second game. Scotlandville and Zachary face off for third around 6 p.m., followed by the championship game.