With her team trailing by six at halftime, St. Michael the Archangel’s Tyler Morrison was determined not to experience the sudden departure that swept the Warriors out of the Class 4A state regionals a year ago.
Not again, not on her home floor, and especially not in her final season.
“That’s what we said coming into it, we couldn’t relieve that,” Morrison said of a 47-44 upset loss to Breaux Bridge. “We hated that feeling.”
Morrison’s determination, coupled with key scoring contributions from some of the team’s role players, helped pave the way for No. 2 St. Michael to pull away down the stretch for a 47-38 victory Monday over No. 15 South Lafourche.
The Warriors (26-8), who extended their win streak to 12 games, advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round at No. 7 Warren Easton, a 56-41 winner over No. 23 DeRidder.
“We knew our game plan in the second half, and we got it done,” St. Michael coach Tami McClure said.
Foul trouble, which sidelined both Morrison and center Jordan Schexnayder, were contributing factors in St. Michael falling behind 22-16 at halftime.
The Warriors played the entire second quarter without Morrison, made just 2-of-8 shots and suffered 14 of their 22 turnovers.
South Lafourche (25-8) caught fire just before halftime, closing with an 8-3 run with Breigh Cheramie scoring the last four of her 10 points.
“We just tweaked some things and made them realize they could do this and get it done,” McClure said.
Guard Essa Badon’s 3-pointer touched off an 11-0 surge that carried seven minutes where Morrison scored five points and Sabree Wilson added four that made it 27-22 with 50 seconds showing.
Not only had Morrison regained her rhythm, scoring nine of her 11 points in the second half, but St. Michael held South Lafourche without a field goal until a 3-pointer from Caroline Guilbeau ended a stretch of 10 consecutive missed shots.
Reserve center Molly Smith, who got extended minutes in Schexnayder’s absence, sparked a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter. The sophomore center scored four of her nine points on a putback and added a 10-footer from the baseline, keying her team’s 52 percent shooting in the second half.
Badon added her third 3-pointer for her ninth point for a 34-25 advantage at the 6:11 mark when South Lafourche answered to close to 37-35 with 3:07 to play when forward Vic Nelson scored six of her 13 points.
Forward Julia Wicker filled a key scoring void with seven points, including a feed from Morrison for a basket that triggered a 10-3 run to finish the game.
Morrison got a steal to start a fast break that resulted in Wilson finding Wicker for a back-breaking three-point play and 44-35 lead with 1:39 left.
“Everybody just stepped up and played,” said Morrison, who added a team-high nine rebounds. “We had a goal and everybody went for it to accomplish it.”