At one point during the season, Warren Easton girls basketball coach Darius Mimms thought his team was suffering from a case of “championship hangover” following its run to the Class 4A state title last year.
He pushed them to turn things around before the playoffs began and they finally obliged during the final stretch of the season.
The Eagles (22-10) finished the season winning 10 of its last 11 games, including a 55-49 victory over rival Edna Karr in a District 10-4A showdown at home Friday night that served as each team’s regular-season finale.
Both teams ended the year with a 7-1 record in District 10-4A and will split the regular-season title.
“We’re just better as a team now,” said Easton senior guard Kechelle Figueroa, who finished with a team-high 14 points and was honored at halftime for being the first girls basketball player in school history to be nominated for the McDonald’s All-American game.
“Coach taught us how to express ourselves in games like this, and we’ve been doing a better job playing together. I’m really proud of the way we won tonight.”
Both teams went back and forth in an emotional second half that had seven lead changes and four ties, but the Eagles — ranked No. 5 in the New Orleans Advocate Girls Super 10 — put together a late run that Karr was never able to bounce back from.
After Paige Williams’ 3-pointer gave Karr a 38-35 lead to open the fourth quarter, the Eagles went on a 12-3 run that ended with a step-back jumper by Figueroa that gave her team a 47-41 lead.
The Lady Cougars (20-7) answered Easton’s run and Williams’ fourth 3-pointer of the night cut the Karr deficit to 49-48 with 1:55 left, but Easton got stops on the defensive end when it needed it and Figueroa scored four of her team’s final six points to secure the win.
Seniors Nikole Haroon and Keiara Williams also made major contributions in their final regular-season home games as well. Haroon had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Williams added 11 points and four rebounds
“It was a reality check when we lost to Karr the first time,” Mimms said. “I told our girls that they played us like they were the champions and we needed to match their effort. We did a good job of responding tonight, and all three of our seniors came up huge for us in the fourth.”
While commending the Easton’s effort, Karr coach Jessica Barber said the No. 4-ranked Lady Cougars would’ve been in better position to win if not for the self-inflicted mistakes they struggled to overcome the entire night.
Karr ended the night with 17 turnovers and only converted on 10 of its 28 free throws.
Williams finished as the team’s leading scorer with 16 points and six rebounds.
“Every time we got a steal or forced them into a bad shot, we turned it over,” Barber said. “I think the girls will see in the film that we controlled a lot of our errors and hopefully they’ll do whatever it takes to fix it.”