LAKE CHARLES — The plan was to stop every player on the Salmen roster not named Kalani Brown.
It worked, and the reward is the school’s first girls state basketball title.
Top-seeded Warren Easton defeated the two-time defending state champion Salmen Spartans 46-42 in the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Class 4A state title game Saturday at Burton Coliseum.
“To be honest with you, it really hasn’t hit me right now,” Warren Easton coach Darius Mimms said. “The struggles this program has gone through, and then to come through and win a state championship is just a beautiful thing. Words just can’t express what I’m feeling right now.”
The Eagles (33-1) were led by Sabrina Banks, who had 17 points and five rebounds. Kechelle Figueroa added 13 points and three rebounds.
It was a back-and-forth game in which no team had more than a five-point lead; Warren Easton took control late, going on an 8-0 run to grab its biggest lead of the game at 42-36 on 3-pointers by Figueroa and Banks.
With her team up 44-42 and 21.2 seconds left, Figueroa calmly hit two free throws to give the Eagles a four-point lead.
After trailing 22-19 at halftime, a 7-3 run by Salmen midway through the third quarter gave the Spartans a brief 28-27 lead. Warren Easton took the lead back in the final minute of the third, scoring the final five points of the quarter to lead 34-32.
Named Most Outstanding Player of the game in the loss, Salmen senior and Baylor signee Brown finished 30 points and 23 rebounds.
But while Brown scored 30 points, no other Spartan scored more than six.
“That was the plan,” Banks said of the Warren Easton defensive approach. “We were not going to let anybody else score a lot of points.”
While he didn’t expect Salmen’s best player to almost score all of her team’s points, Mimms said the plan was to contain every other Spartan.
“The plan was to make sure nobody else had a good game,” he said. “We were successful in stopping everybody else. We are very familiar with this team, having played them now four times.
“I told my team that there was no way one player was going to beat us. If we put too much emphasis on stopping Kalani, the rest of those players are going to get in their comfort zone, which makes them a stronger team. So we took the approach Kalani is going to score, just stop everyone else from being successful.”
Fighting back tears, Brown credited her team for never giving up throughout the game.
“Credit Warren Easton,” she said. “They are a really good team that always brings the intensity. They are very hard to beat.”
The game was a rematch of the 2014 state championship game, which Salmen won 56-48.