LAKE CHARLES — With a 6-foot-5 player like Kalani Brown, you’d figure Salmen would do an inside out number on Edna Karr. Guards Tiara Warren and Arianna Cooks made it an outside job.
The duo combined for 37 points, including six 3-pointers to lead second-seeded Salmen past No. 3 Karr 66-57 in a Class 4A semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament.
“Our little freshman (Cooks) and our senior (Warren) hit some nice 3s when we needed them,” Salmen coach Kevin Anderson said. “If you’re sagging in all the time on this team, we have other players.”
The 5-4 Warren made 7 of 13 shots from the floor, including four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points for two-time defending 4A champion Salmen.
With the victory, the Spartans advance to play top-seeded Warren Easton (33-1) in the 4A title game set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Burton Coliseum. Easton advanced with a 47-39 win over Cabrini in the other 4A semifinal.
The teams also met in last year’s 4A title game with Salmen winning 56-48. It will be the fourth time the teams have met this season. WEHS has won twice.
Cooks added 18 points on 6 for 14 shooting with two 3-pointers. Karr (29-4) blanketed Brown, the Baylor signee, in the first half, But she scored 12 second-half points and finished with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Brown also had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Destiny Collins led Karr with 16 points, including three 3-pointers, while Rehema Franklin (12) also scored in double figures.
“It wasn’t so much the number of 3-pointers,” Karr coach Jessica Barber asid. “It was when they were made. Our game plan was to make the other kids beat us. But then we kind of got away from that in the second half because we had to play from behind.”
Barber’s points were notable. Karr scored 21 of the game’s final 30 points. But the Cougars trailed by 19 points when they started their fourth-quarter surge.
The game was close early. The teams scored twice in the final 15 seconds of the first quarter.
Collins gave Karr the lead, but Deja Starks scored on a layup just before the buzzer to give Salmen an 11-10 edge.
Cooks and Warren heated up in the second quarter. A 3-pointer from the right corner by Cooks gave Salmen a 14-12 lead at the 7:05 mark. She added a second 3-pointer 90 seconds later and Warren made another at the 1:45 mark, which extended the Spartans lead to 12 points at 27-19.
Salmen led 28-21 at halftime and led by as much as 16 in the third quarter. With the outside shooters doing their thing so well, things opened up for Brown, who dismissed chants of “overrated” by the Karr student section.
“I don’t play into that negative energy,” Brown said. “I play my game.”
The Spartans upped their lead to 19 points in the fourth quarter, playing through the loss of Starks to a knee injury.
Karr battled back to within seven at 60-53 on a 3-pointer by Collins with 2:37 to go but got no closer.
“Even though it wasn’t the perfect finish, we got the job done,” Anderson said.