Helen Cox was one of the surprise teams in the state last season, making it to the Class 5A semifinals in Lake Charles.

The No. 10 Cougars’ plans for a return trip came to a surprisingly early halt on Thursday with a 54-43 upset loss to Acadiana in the bidistrict round.

“When you get to the playoffs, rankings don’t matter,” Cougars coach Barbara Weary-Cox said. “The playoffs are another season, and when they start you have to play hard and you have to want it. (The Rams) came in and they were ready tonight.”

Tyrion Martin scored a team-high 17 points for Cox, which finished 25-6. Bria Burras finished with 11 points.

Danayear Charles, a senior point guard, chipped in eight points, despite hobbling with an ankle injury.

“We accomplished a lot while she was here,” said Weary-Cox about point guard Charles. “It’s going to be hard replacing someone like that. She may be 5-2 in stature but she plays like she is 6-2.”

Burras is the only other senior for the Cougars.

Cox led 25-24 at halftime, but the visiting Rams outscored the Cougars 16-6 in the third quarter to take a 40-31 lead into the fourth quarter.

Cox cut it to 45-41 with 2:46 left on a Charles layup, but could get no closer.

It didn’t help that the Cougars made just 7 of 21 from the free- throw line.

Senior Paige Francis scored 21 points and Zariyah Hollier had 12 to lead the Rams (17-14).

“Paige has been pretty steady all year for us,” Acadiana coach Nic Jeffers said. “We turned up the intensity in the second half, especially defensively. We started doing some of the things we wanted to do.”

The Rams got past the first round after losing to Thibodaux last year and to Dominican at the buzzer two seasons ago.

“This is huge, Jeffers said. “We have been trying to get over the hump for the last two years and it feels good to finally get this burden off of us and now go back home to play in front of our fans for the first playoff game at Acadiana since around 2006.”

Salmen 89, Belaire 37: Kalani Brown scored 37 points, grabbed 24 rebounds and had eight blocked shots to lead the two-time defending Class 4A state champions to an easy opening-round victory.

Tiara Warren had 18 points and Arriana Cooks had 12 for the Spartans (24-4), who will play the Loyola Prep-Leesville winner.

Cabrini 60, LaGrange 25: Rakell Spencer scored 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had four steals to lead No. 5 Cabrini to an easy win over No. 28 LaGrange in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.

Cabrini will play the winner of Thursday’s game between Peabody and Assumption.

Kelsey Pinera scored 10 points and Erin Temple had nine (three 3-pointers) for Cabrini.

Cabrini’s Kyla Williams also pulled down 10 rebounds

Warren Easton 86, Teurlings Catholic 27: Kichelle Figueroa scored 17 points to go with six rebounds, five assists and five steals to lead the top-ranked Eagles (30-1) to an easy victory.

Easton will travel to play No. 17 Wossman, a 44-33 winner over No. 16 Grant, in the second round.

Sabrina Banks scored 16 points for the Eagles and Shaniqua Tobias had 12.

Dene Mimms had a team-high eight rebounds for the Eagles.

St. Louis 48, John Curtis 42: St. Louis, the No. 21 seed, upset No. 12 seed John Curtis in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.

St. Louis advances to play No. 5 seed Jewel Sumner.