LAKE CHARLES — A day after the death of her father, North Central coach Vanessa Taylor led the Hurricanes to their first championship in school history Saturday by beating second-seeded Vermilion Catholic 54-50.
The back-and-forth battle opened a four-game schedule at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament. Taylor’s loss gave the NCHS the added inspiration it needed to win the game characterized by big runs, six lead changes and seven tied scores.
NCHS (30-3) was making its fourth straight tourney appearance. The Allstate Sugar Bowl Class 1A Most Outstanding Player award went to North Central’s Jazlyn Robertson, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Robertson made the fourth-quarter layup that put the Hurricanes ahead for good. Sydney Martin scored a game-high 18 points, and Quaniqua Joseph added 14 for the winners.
Vermilion Catholic (26-5), the 2013 1A champion, got 32 points and 27 rebounds from Ashailee Brailey and Kaylen Collins. Both players finished with 16 points, while Collins had 15 rebounds and Brailey 12.
North Central took control early with a 19-point second quarter and led 26-22 at halftime. Vermilion Catholic came out strong to start the second half, using a 14-3 run to go up by seven points midway through the third quarter.
Both teams traded baskets in a fourth quarter that saw four ties before Robertson hit a final go-ahead layup make it 52-50 with 1:16 remaining. The teams had traded baskets down the stretch until Robertson’s post-up move. Joseph then tacked on two free throws.
NORTH CADDO 55, PICKERING 49: North Caddo won its second straight 2A title. The Rebels (24-11) were led by Keyarrea Easter’s game-high 22 points and seven rebounds.
Jasmine Thomas added 18 points and 11 rebounds and was selected as the Most Outstanding Player for the 2A title game. Sumer Williams had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the winners.
Trailing 22-21 coming out of halftime, the story of the third quarter was Thomas. She single-handily outscored Pickering 11-0 the final 4:27 of the third quarter to give the Rebels a 36-27 lead.
Pickering got as close as 46-45 with under two minutes left but could never regain the lead.
Amy McKellar paced the Devils with seven of the 12 points in the run and led Pickering with 10 first-half points.
Playing in the school’s first-state championship game, Pickering (26-5) was led by McKellar’s 15 points and five rebounds.
Terrinisha Mosley added 11 points, six rebounds and six assists.