In a battle between two of the better teams girls basketball teams in District 6-5A, it was the Mandeville Skippers who defeated Covington 56-50.

Mandeville (16-8, 6-2) was led by Elise Reilly’s game-high 18 points. The Skippers also got 13 points from an unlikely source in SaraJane Ladut, who had a season-high.

“I can’t really explain it,” Ladut said of her 13-point outburst. “I knew that this was a big game for us this season, arguably the biggest game of the year. We lost to Covington the first time we played them, and we knew we had to come back and win this one.”

Ranked No. 10 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10 poll, Covington (16-6, 5-3) was led by Taylor Singletary’s 12 points and Artekia McDowell had 10 points.

A back-and-forth third quarter, with a playoff-type atmosphere, featured eight lead changes. Covington took its first lead on a bucket by Keira Brown to end the third quarter.

The Lions lead grew to as big as 45-42 on back-to-back buckets by Singletary.

However, tied at 47 with 2:40 left in the game, Reilly scored the next seven points in the game to give the Skippers the lead for good at 54-47.

“This one definitely had the feel of a playoff game,” Reilly said. “We knew if we wanted to keep pace with Ponchatoula for the top spot in the district then this was a must-win game for us., That is what we treated it like and we were fortunate enough to come away with a big win.”

Riding a hot-shooting first half which saw them hit five 3-pointers, the Skippers used a 10-0 run to finish out the first quarter to take an 18-11 lead. In addition to the outstanding shooting, the Mandeville defense was equally as impressive, holding Covington scoreless the final 4:12 of the opening quarter.

“We knew how important our defensive was going to be tonight,” Reilly said. “We knew if we could slow (Covington) down a little bit and get some easy baskets, it would give us a better chance to come away with an important win. Early on in the game, we were able to do that, and we shot the ball well early, too. That allowed us to break out to as big of an early lead as we did.”

Covington scored seven of the first nine points of the second quarter to cut the lead to 20-18 with 3:24 to go in the half, but buckets by Jaz Menina, Reilly and Shantel Short pushed the lead back to 27-20.

Splitting the season series, Mandeville avenges a 59-56 loss to the Lions. At 6-2 in District 6-5A, the Skippers sit alone in second place behind district leader Ponchatoula, which is unbeaten in district.