There was no drama this time for two-time defending state champion University High this time.
The third-seeded Cubs took the lead early and led by as much as 15 points en route to a 57-46 victory over No. 6 Albany High in a Class 3A girls basketball quarterfinal played Thursday night at UHS.
“It couldn’t be close,” point guard Kaila Anderson said. “We learned that Monday night. We knew we needed to take advantage of playing at home, get the lead and stay in front.”
Anderson referenced the Cubs’ buzzer-beating 54-53 win over Ville Platte in Monday’s second round. The UHS point guard didn’t just talk the talk. She also played a key role, scoring a game-high 19 points and dishing out eight assists. With the win, the Cubs (27-8) advance to play No. 2 Jewel Sumner (31-0) in a 3A semifinal set for Wednesday at SLU’s University Center.
Anderson had four 3-pointers, including a step back 3-pointer with 2:44 left in the third quarter that helped stave off a run by Albany (25-9). Chelsea Verrett added 17 points and eight rebounds. Faith Kwentua had a game-high 13 rebounds and Terri Drake added 11.
Madison Peters led Albany with 16 points. Mahogany Williams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets.
“We did not do good job of doing what we practiced,” Albany coach Stacy Darouse said. “U-High played better than us tonight. From start to finish, they played better than us.
“I thought the second half we settled down and play better, but by that time we were in foul trouble. But I have to say I’m super proud of this team. Nobody expected them to get this far or to win 25 games.”
Albany led once in the first quarter. Drake had seven points to help U-High take a 14-9 lead.
The action picked up considerably in the second quarter. Albany’s Williams scored nine second-quarter points, including a basket that made it 14-11 less than 30 seconds into the period.
With Drake and Faith Kwentua finding ways to dominate the boards the Cubs started extending their lead. Anderson had back-to-back 3-pointers for UHS and Verrett contributed eight second-quarter points.
Verrett’s layup in transition made it 31-20 with 1:54 left in the half. The Cubs led by as much as 13 points. But a basket and a free throw by Williams cut the U-High lead to 35-26 at halftime.
The Hornets made a run at the Cubs in the third quarter. A layup by Williams made it 39-32 with 4:08 remaining in the quarter. UHS responded with eight straight points, including the 3-pointer by Anderson.
UHS took a 47-32 lead into the final period. Albany managed to cut into the gap, but didn’t get within serious striking distance. A four-minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter also helped end the Hornets’ hopes for a comeback.
“To be able to make with this group, considering we lost two starters (two injuries),” UHS coach Bonita Johnson said. “We’ve overcome a lot. These girls have adjusted to their roles as things have changed.
“There are things we could have done better. We didn’t shoot free throws particularly well. But I’ll take it.”
Verrett added, “It’s a challenge for us now. People are talking and say we can’t win. We want to prove them wrong.”