Photos: Our best shots from LHSAA girls basketball state tournament Wednesday _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Madison Prep's Faith Avery (1) leads her teammates in a postgame victory chant after defeating St. Thomas Aquinas 69-44 in the Class 2A semifinal of the Girls Top 28 Tournament on Wednesday at Southeastern University in Hammond.

HAMMOND — Madison Prep made its first appearance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament a real winner Wednesday night.

The sixth-seeded Chargers looked like anything but the new kid on the block while running away with a 69-44 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 2A semifinal that completed Wednesday’s action at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center.

“The first thing I want to say is that our girls played really hard from the beginning to the end, and they did everything I expected and we came out with the victory,” Madison Prep coach Dwayne Hayes said. “Everything for the most part worked out the way we thought it would.”

Sherry Porter finished with 18 points and Alexis Augustus added 15 for MPA (30-4), which advances to play the winner of Thursday’s semifinal between North Caddo and River at 4 p.m. Saturday. Dezmanique Gaines provided the inside presence with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

“Hats off to them,” St. Thomas Aquinas coach John White said. “(Madison Prep) was really quick, and I thought that was the difference in the game.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, the No. 2 seed, finished 24-7. It was the Falcons’ third Top 28 berth in four years. Regan Bolton scored a game-high 20 points for STA, which shot an uncharacteristic 27.3 percent from the field.

The game was about two things for the Chargers, getting in the passing lanes and rushing out to fill the lanes on fast breaks.

If MPA had any jitters, it didn’t show. Augustus, who helped limit Bolton to 7-for-19 shooting, started fast offensively, making 3 of 5 first-quarter shots. Madison Prep scored the game’s first eight points and led 17-7 after the first quarter.

“I think the key to it was us being a team,” MPA guard Kennedi Green said. “We are a sisterhood, and when we come out to a place like this we get ourselves hyped in the locker room. It’s natural because we’ve got each other, and we don’t want to lose.”

St. Thomas Aquinas tried to make some headway in the second quarter but only managed to chisel a point off the Madison Prep lead.

The Chargers went on a 7-0 run and led 40-24 after a putback by Gaines with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter. By the time the third quarter was done MPA had delivered a knockout punch — a 23-8 run.

“Coach always tells us to play every game like it’s a championship,” Porter said. “That’s what we try to do every night.”

And on Saturday night, Madison Prep will play for one.