The Baker High School girls basketball program has enjoyed an unprecedented run of success the past four seasons and senior players Anitra Whitfield, Jacques Dodson and Tia Hughes have been key contributors.
Baker has a 102-23 record, including 32-0 in district, in the four years. The Buffaloes are 12-3 in the playoffs heading into their second trip to the Class 3A title game.
Second-seeded Baker (25-5) will play fifth-seeded Rayville (25-5) at 6 p.m. Thursday for the Class 3A title at the University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
Baker’s seniors won two middle school championships and were contributors as freshmen on the 2010 runner-up team. Breanna Whitfield was one of the key players on the 2010 team, now younger sisters Anitra Whitfield and Iesha Smith, a 5-foot-6 junior, are keeping the family tradition going.
Baker coach Mike Stephens said Baker hadn’t won a playoff game in 38 years before 2010. Now the program can claim its first title.
“Our seniors have been great leaders on and off the court,” Stephens said. “Anitra Whitfield has done a great job at point guard, Jacques Dodson can really shoot the ball and Tia Hughes does a lot of the dirty work. Tia gets on the floor for loose balls and really rebounds well.”
“We’re really excited about playing for the state title,” said the 5-9 Hughes, who averages six points and eight rebounds per game. “We’re ready. We’ll have to play as a team and handle our jobs.”
Whitfield (12 ppg, six assists, four steals), Dodson (12 ppg, four apg, four spg), 5-9 junior Eugenea James (18 ppg, 12 rpg, 3 spg) and 6-0 junior center Ariane Addison (8 ppg, 8 rpg) are the other starters.
“Jacques, Tia and I have been playing together since sixth grade,” Whitfield said. “It’s nice that we’re ending our career in the state title game. We want to come back to Baker on Thursday night with the championship trophy.
“The key to the game is execution on offense, playing good defense and playing with a lot of energy.”
Whitfield has excelled as Baker’s floor leader.
“I’m good at penetrating and finding my teammates,” Whitfield said. “We enjoy playing defense as a team. We’ve got to stay focused and play with confidence.”
Baker’s pressure defense often leads to steals and easy baskets. Rayville plays a similar style but with a faster offensive pace.
Rayville knocked off top-seeded Albany 78-56 in the semifinals.
La’Dencia Johnson (14.8 ppg), a 6-foot senior, Andreanna Jackson (12.4 ppg), Victoria Wilson (10.2 ppg) and Dameisha Daniels (9.5 ppg) are the leading scorers for Rayville.
“Rayville has three good guards,” Stephens said. “They are a quick team and long and athletic. Three of their losses have been to the top three teams in Class 5A.
“We’re going to have to stay in front of them defensively. We’ll have our hands full with them. I think if our girls play well, I like our chances.”