The magical inaugural season of varsity athletics at Christ Episcopal School continues.
Seeking its second team state championship of the school year (the cross country team won the Class C state title), the small Covington-area school will take on Claiborne Christian in the 2018 LHSAA Allstate Sugar Bowl Division V girls basketball state championship game Friday morning at 10 a.m at the Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria.
Winners of nine consecutive games, the Wildcats defeated Family Community 39-36 in a game where nerves clearly got to coach Stephen Griffin’s team, including freshman guard Quincy Downing throwing up in a garbage can during a break in the action. Downing still finished with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals .
“I think we are going to be better,” Griffin said. “The team this week has seemed a lot calmer, and the nerves I think have gone away. It’s been back to basketball for us this week and that has been our big focus. The other thing that I believe will help us (in terms of nerves) is that we expect a much bigger crowd of our fans. We have some spirit buses that are coming as well as the girls getting to take part in a pep rally at school on Thursday morning before we left.”
In the win against Family Community, the Wildcats struggled to take care of the basketball, committing 36 turnovers, a majority coming in the first quarter.
“It’s about getting back to just playing basketball,” Griffin said. “Our team knows we are capable of playing better than we did (in the semifinals), and I fully expect them to (on Friday).”
For Christ Episcopal to come home with a state championship trophy Friday morning, they are going to have to get a big game from their best player. Facing double and triple teams throughout in the semifinals, senior guard Gabriella Leahy still managed to score 11 points, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and dish out six assists.
The soft-spoken Leahy, whose brother Bill Leahy will hope to help St. Paul’s defeat Brother Martin later Friday in the Division I state quarterfinals, said she is taking it all in stride.
“I don’t care how many points I score because I am just here to win,” she said. “Get (the ball to) whoever is in an open spot to get us a good look at the basket and a bucket.”
To win Friday morning, the Wildcats will have to defeat the top-seeded team in the Division V bracket in Claiborne Christian.
Located in West Monroe, Claiborne Christian is 16-13 after a 41-39 semifinal win over Grace Christian on Monday. Rayleigh Bennett led Claiborne Christian with 14 points and six steals, and Anna Head finished with 10 points and four rebounds in the victory.