NEW ORLEANS — Top-seeded Warren Easton is back in the Class 4A quarterfinals, but Thursday night’s 65-46 win over Broadmoor proved to be no easy accomplishment.
The Bucs pushed Easton for nearly three quarters, matching its athleticism, intensity and during certain stretches of this regional, converted more perimeter shots. While Easton never trailed, the Eagles, unbeaten in the state this season and a favorite to win the Class 4A title, failed to dominate like they have during much of this season.
The Eagles (33-2)didn’t seal their second trip to the third round of the playoffs in as many seasons until the fourth quarter, a point of emphasis coach coach Darius Mimms stressed to his players.
“Our last 20 games, we haven’t really been challenged, and that’s the thing that concerns me,” Mimms said. “I’m just trying to make sure I challenge them in practice, put them in situations we haven’t been in before and hopefully, we’ll respond.
“I think we responded —somewhat — tonight. But we have to get better.”
For all the posters hung around the campus, right outside of downtown New Orleans, for all the calls they’ve received from well-wishers, Mimms sees the added attention as a blessing and a curse, depending on how they handle it.
During Thursday’s game, he had to ignore comments from Easton fans in the stands, telling him that Helen Cox won its regional game, setting up a potential matchup against Easton next week.
First, Mims wanted to make sure Easton took care of business Thursday.
Lawriell Wilson scored a game-high 20 points, and Jeremica Edwards added 19. The duo, which accounted for more than half of Easton’s scoring, ended the high school career of Broadmoor point guard Shantrell Lumar, who scored a team-high 19 points.
Along with teammate Honchea Thornton (14 points), Lumar pushed Easton, by penetrating to the rim and on defense, pressuring the Eagles, antics usually reserved for Easton.
“We came hard because we knew they had not been challenged throughout the year,” Lumar said. “They’re undefeated (in state competition), so they have the big head. We came, played hard and tried to show them that they weren’t the best team on the court.”
Despite a slow start for Broadmoor — by themselves, Wilson and Edwards outscored the Bucs 13-4 during the opening six minutes — Broadmoor recovered. With 46.3 seconds left in the second quarter, Lumar made a layup and was fouled. She added the free throw to trim the deficit to 25-22. Easton’s Wilson countered with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Eagles’ lead grew in the third quarter as Broadmoor failed to adjust to playing without senior Erica Teschke, who was lost in the second quarter with a knee injury.
In the fourth uarter , Thornton’s three-point play in the post with 5:31 left trimmed the deficit to 47-36, offering Broadmoor (21-8) one final opportunity to start a game-winning run. But Easton had other plans, starting its own 14-4 run. It started with a layup by Sabrina Banks and ended with 2:37 left as she scored on a put back and converted a free throw.
“It was intense,” Wilson said of the regional playoff. “But we we just had to play hard, play smart and play our game.”