Mount Carmel entered the girls basketball playoffs as one of the state’s hottest teams, winning 14 of its past 15 games to end the regular season.
It didn’t take long on Thursday to see that the Cubs weren’t cooling off anytime soon.
No. 2 Mount Carmel rattled off 20 straight points in the first quarter to break the game open early and cruised to a 60-41 victory over visiting and No. 31 seed Evangel Christian in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The No. 2 seed Cubs (25-6), seeking their second state championship in three seasons, advance to the second round and will play the Zachary, a 48-40 winner over Landry-Walker, in the regional round.
Paige Franckiewicz and Megan Donaldson scored seven points each in the first quarter to jumpstart the Cubs, who trailed 2-0 in the first minute before going on the decisive run.
“The start was huge,” Franckiewicz said. “Our whole motto for the season has been ‘Throw the first punch.’ It’s always easier to put someone in a hole than dig your way out of one. That was important for us to get that early lead and take the momentum.”
Donaldson led the Cubs with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Frankiewicz, a Loyola signee, finished with 10 points. Kristen Nuss and Ellie Holman also finished with 10 points. Holman banked in a jumper at the end of the first quarter to give Mount Carmel a 22-6 lead. The stretched the lead to 39-16 by halftime and never looked back. Jordan Berry scored all nine of her points in the second quarter for the Cubs.
“The girls are feeling good and are confident,” first-year MCA coach Jamie Thomatis said. “One down.”
Freshman Tiara Young finished with a game-high 23 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Eagles (19-13), but it wasn’t nearly enough to help the visitors dig out of their early hole.
“We are riding the high wave,” Franckiewicz said. “We have found our groove. We went through a lot of growing pains early because we have a lot of freshmen. It was an adjustment at first, but we’ve found our groove and are playing together.”
ZACHARY 48, LANDRY-WALKER 40: In Zachary, No. 15 seed Zachary outscored No. 18 Landry Walker 29-19 in the second half to take a 5A bidistrict playoff victory.
Jomyra Mathis scored 17 points for Landry Walker (23-4). Mathis had 11 points in the first half as Landry-Walker led 21-19 at halftime.
Tamia Veal scored 16 and grabbed 14 rebounds for Zachary (24-9). Jame Cia Profit and Bryan a Langford had 12 each for ZHS.
“We played well in the first half but had too many turnovers in the second half,” Landry-Walker coach Jack Washington said.
URSULINE 67, PLAQUEMINE 56: Brooklyn Mitchell and Kourtney Weber led No. 8 Ursuline past No. 25 Plaquemine in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Mitchell finished with 17 points and nine assists and Weber had 20 points and nine rebounds.
The Lions (23-5) advance to the second round and will host Ellender.
Kiersten Neslon chipped in 13 point sand six rebounds for Ursuline.
HELEN COX 38, WALKER 33: Tyrionne Martin scored a team-high 17 points to lead No. 16 Cox past No. 17 Walker in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
Brittany Hall scored eight points for the Cougars.
Helen Cox will travel to to play top-seed Mandeville in the second round.
Cox eliminated Mandeville in the playoffs two seasons ago.
BOSSIER 63, SALMEN 46: For the first time since 2011, Salmen won’t be playing in the state championship game.
The No. 17 Spartans were eliminated in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs on the road against No. 16 Bossier.
Bossier advances to the second round to play top-seed St. Thomas More.
Salmen reached the championship game in 2012, won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 and finished as runner-up last season.
DERIDDER 44, CABRINI 42: DeRidder, a No. 23 seed, upset No. 10 Cabrini in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
The Crescents, playing the last three weeks of the season without Texas A&M signee Rakell Spencer (torn ACL), finished 20-12.
DeRidder will host Warren Easton in the second round.
WARREN EASTON 72, NEVILLE 45: The defending Class 4A state champions got their run to a repeat off to a good start with a 27-poin victory over Neville in a game played at McDonogh 35’s gym.
Easton, a No. 7 seed, will travel to play No. 23 DeRidder in the second round.
HANNAN 48, RIVERSIDE 44: Hannan edged Riverside in an all-New Orleans area game in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
Hannan, the No. 17 seed, will host top-seed North Caddo in the second round.
COUNTRY DAY 52, WEST ST. MARY 32: The No. 11 Cajuns rolled to a 20-point win in the first round of the playoffs over No. 22 West St. Mary. Country Day advances to play the Madison Prep- French Settlement winner.