DENHAM SPRINGS — With a lively home crowd on hand and their fiercest rival in the building, the Denham Springs girls took an 11-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s District 4-5A basketball opener against Walker.
The performance of the Yellow Jackets matched the intensity of the environment.
Top offensive threats Tremeeka Spikes and Lexi McMorris and a defense that has grown increasingly stingy led the way in a 55-31 victory that saw the Yellow Jackets open league action with their 12th straight win.
“We talked about it being the second season, coming out ready to play and taking care of home court,” Denham Springs coach Shelly LaPrarie said. “You’ve got to win all of them at home and then go try to steal some on the road.”
Spikes and McMorris have been Denham’s top scorers all season and were at their best Tuesday against the defending district champions.
Spikes scored a game-high 21 points, including 11 in the first quarter as Denham (18-2) opened an early 13-point lead. McMorris had 18 points, followed by Caroline Taylor with 14.
Spikes spent most of the night matched up with Nicholls State signee Keeona Brown, who entered averaging 28 points but finished with only 11.
McMorris is a Walker transfer who faced off against her old team for the first time.
After playing for Walker through the 2013-14 season, McMorris sat out her junior season at Denham Springs to satisfy LHSAA transfer rules.
“I have a whole team to back me up,” McMorris said. “I learned so much from coming over here and being able to watch from the bench. I learned stuff from watching instead of playing.”
Walker (16-8) took a 2-0 lead on Krystal Hutchinson’s backdoor layup nine seconds in, but Spikes answered with back-to-back buckets for a 4-2 lead. The Yellow Jackets never trailed again.
Denham led by double figures most of the way, including the final four minutes of the first half and the entire second.
The Yellow Jackets held an opponent under 40 points for the 14th time this season and for the ninth time during their 12-game winning streak.
“We had enough turnovers to open up a bakery, and we can’t maintain focus enough defensively to beat a good team,” Walker coach Korey Arnold said.
The Wildcats reached the 2015 state championship game but lost three Division I signees off that team. They entered district having already lost two more games than they did all of last season.
No matter, LaPrarie said Walker always has her team’s full attention.
“These kids are friends and have played against each other all their life, maybe played with each other at one time or another,” LaPrarie said. “A lot of talk goes on before the game. They came out juiced up and ready to go.”