Less than a week has passed since John Curtis’ sobering, narrow loss to Destrehan in the AllState Sugar Bowl Prep Classic, and the Patriots have spent the past five days prioritizing defense and smart plays before they hit the postseason.

Coach Barbara Farris saw spurts of that development during a 60-34 win at Karr on Thursday night in Algiers.

“In spurts, I saw us being patient and making the smart pass,” she said. “But also in spurts, I saw us get lackluster on defense.

"We don’t need to be playing our best basketball, in January: that’s for February (playoffs). But we should be playing smarter.”

The Cougars went basket for basket with John Curtis (18-2) for the first quarter, until Jerkalia Jordan sparked a 13-2 Patriots run in the final minutes. The Patriots went in to the second quarter up by 11 points and had a 41-16 lead at half time.

“We were taking quick shots, playing into our strengths,” Ferris said. “We’re trying to work on being smart and disciplined.”

She said the Patriots knew that Karr (7-12) to be a quality team and unlikely to give up on their homecourt without a substantial fight. Destiny Collins led the Cougars with 15 points, and Rikianne Patterson followed with seven.

For the Patriots, junior Dynah Jones managed multiple steals in the first half by reading the Cougars’ next move. She had a game-high 25 points and was prolific rebounding as well, and had 14 points in the first half alone. Abryhia Irons had eight points and Alaan West added six points.

Curtis, which lost a nine-point lead against the Wildcats on Saturday, started with speed that left the Cougars off-balance from the outset. Farris is emphasizing defense and smart, scrupulous plays in every game but also working on making sure her players can bounce back and focus after every individual play, regardless whether it ended in their favor or not.

The Patriots faired well in getting back after giving up points against the Cougars. Karr scored back-to-back buckets just once before late in the fourth quarter, when the Patriots led by nearly 30 points.