From the start, it seemed Thursday's girls playoff game between Helen Cox and Rayne was headed for a blow out — a Helen Cox blowout.
But not so fast.
Rayne's Tasia Duhon was not ready to throw in the towel just yet. The senior captain poured in 30 points to keep her team in the game at Cox's gym.
Duhon seemed unstoppable until she fouled out abruptly with six minutes remaining in the game and No. 13 Helen Cox (20-11) survived with a 64-59 win in the Class 4A first round.
No. 20 Rayne ended its season at 15-14.
“We knew we had just keep our composure in the end,” Cox coach Barbara Weary-Cox said. “We knew they were going to make a run. It was expected to get their best shot. It’s playoff basketball and our girls responded.”
Cox's Briante Encalade scored seven points in the contest, but all seven were needed in the fourth quarter to help secure the victory. Enclade's steal and 3-pointer broke a 59-all tie to make the score 62-59 with 1:42 remaining.
Mya Phillips was the Lady Cougars’ most efficient weapon, scoring 25 points.
Despite losing their star player early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Wolves did not go quietly. Devin Sias hit two crucial field goals in the closing minutes to keep Rayne in it until the end.
“We didn't convert our free throws tonight and it hurt us,” Rayne coach Chelsie Sonnier said. “We lost by five, but missed 14 free ones. We have a young team, and one of our best players fouled out early. You never know how differently things could have been.”
After falling behind early, Rayne found itself shooting untimed free throws at the end of the third quarter to lead 49-47. Duhon exploded for 20 points in the third quarter.
Rayne closed the double-digit gap in the second half by recording back-to-back steals in the third quarter. Duhon scored seven of her 20 third-quarter points in a two-minute span to cut Cox’s lead to 39-33 with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
Helen Cox trotted into halftime confident and in control of all the momentum ahead 35-23. The Cougars received big first-half performances from their two stars Phillips and Tanai Junior, who combined for 32 of Lady Cougars’ 35 points.