All season long, Cabrini girls basketball coach Nancy Walsh has praised her team’s dedication to defensive effort and conditioning.
Both aspects were critical during the Crescents’ 52-38 victory over Peabody of Alexandria in a 4A regional state game at Cabrini on Tuesday night.
No. 5 seed Cabrini (26-5) will advance to play the winner of Wednesday’s Bastrop at Fair Park game.
Twice in Tuesday’s victory, Cabrini’s quick, pressure defense influenced the game’s flow.
Peabody (23-9) led 16-15 with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the first half. The Lady Warhawks went four minutes without scoring and fell behind 24-16. By halftime, Cabrini led 32-22.
After Kelsey Pinera and Erin Temple opened the quarter with a pair of 3-point shots for an 18-16 lead, the perimeter defense of guards Patin, Temple and Rayvin Patin produced a series of turnovers and steals that resulted in a 20-9 second quarter.
“Too many turnovers,” Peabody coach Brandy Kenney said. “Most of them ended up as points (for Cabrini).”
Kenney stepped as head coach following the death of Michael Burks on Jan. 21.
“It’s been rough,” she said. “But our girls played with intensity again tonight.”
Peabody fell behind 41-29 five minutes into the third period, but clawed its way back into contention mostly on the low post play of Azia Reed, who scored 10 of her 16 points in the period.
Cabrini led 42-36 after three. Once again, the Crescents defense took over, holding Peabody to two points in the final period.
The Crescents’ Rakell Spencer led all scorers with 19 points.
Pinera added 15.
Peabody’s other low post, Demetrion Jones scored 10 points, eight in the first half.
“It’s a great win for us,” said Temple, who scored all of her 8 points in the pivotal second quarter. “It was tough tonight. The main thing is deny, deny, deny. Don’t let them get the ball where they want it.”
Peabody utilized its depth, substituting five and three players at a time frequently. Cabrini only played seven in the game.
“When I saw early they were trying to platoon (with five) or throwing three players in, I wasn’t freaking out,” Walsh said. “I know how well-conditioned our team is.
“Our kids can go deep. They proved that when we beat Destrehan and Mount Carmel in the same day (early this season).
“Two years in a row we had lost in the second round,” said Walsh. “It’s been nothing but heartbreak, so this is big.”
Cabrini has not played a second-round game at home in the six years Walsh has coached. It’s gym is not large enough to host a second-round game. Peabody agreed to Tuesday’s site.
“Kyla Williams really did an excellent job for us inside,” Walsh said. “We knew they were a tough, physical team. Her rebounding and defense were important.”