It’s never a surprise when things get a little hostile when Warren Easton and Cabrini meet on the basketball court, and Saturday’s matchup between the two schools was no exception.
The two rivals had another emotional contest, but Easton’s defense came up huge in a 57-53 overtime win on the road in a nondistrict game.
The Crescents (15-8) and the Eagles (16-10) are only separated by one spot in both The New Orleans Advocate Girls Super 10 (Cabrini No. 4, Easton No. 5) and the most recent LHSAA power rankings (Cabrini No. 8, Easton No. 9), and Easton coach Darius Mimms said Saturday’s win may be a “season-changer” for his team.
“We had to just keep our composure,” Mimms said. “That’s the adversity we’ve been dealing with, and I told the girls that we’re going to keep fighting and it’s going to make us a better team.”
Both teams made huge plays on offense in the deciding moments of the fourth quarter, but it was defense that put the game away for the defending Class 4A state champions.
Neither team scored a field goal in overtime, but the Eagles nailed five free throws in the extra period, while Cabrini only made one of its two free throws after regulation. That was the only point the Crescents scored in overtime.
One of Easton’s free throws in overtime came from senior leader Kechelle Figueroa, who finished the game with a team-high 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“We needed this win,” Figueroa said. “Coach told us to come out and play with intensity and that’s just what I tried to do.”
Both teams went back and forth in the first three quarters, with neither side leading by more than five points, but Easton began to separate itself in the beginning of the fourth.
The Eagles went on an 8-0 run in the first few minutes of the quarter and extended their lead to 46-36 after a layup by Kiana Anderson.
But Cabrini answered the Eagles’ run with a 12-1 run of its own that ended with a three-point play by Rayven Patin that gave the Crescents a 48-47 lead with 2:18 left in the game.
The two sides went back and forth in the final two minutes, but after Figueroa’s layup gave the Eagles a 52-50 lead with 25 seconds left, Cabrini guard Rayven Patin nailed a jumper with 12 seconds left to tie the game.
Easton had several shots to win the game in the waning seconds, but was unable to convert on any of its opportunities, sending the game to overtime.
“We came into tonight saying if we could beat Karr (on Feb. 12) and Cabrini, that would help us get back in the thick of things,” Mimms said. “If we can run the table to end the season, I think we’ll be in really good shape.”
Cabrini coach Nancy Walsh said her team’s inability to hit free throws (50 percent for the game) and make big plays when they needed was the major difference in the end.
Patin and Kelsey Pinera tied for the team lead with 15 points, while Texas A&M commitment Rakell Spencer finished with eight points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
“We could have shut them down in the first half if we just made free throws,” Walsh said. “We didn’t really play smart tonight, and we had some key turnovers during big moments in the game.”