MONROE — The queen of Class 5A basketball is back on top of its throne.
Without a title since 2006, the Shreveport-based powerhouse returned to the top of Class 5A with a dominating 62-34 win over second-seeded Natchitoches Central on Saturday night.
Senior guard Jessica Ellis led all scorers with 20 for Southwood (31-1). Forward Kourtney Pennywell added 18 points, while Keona Favis had a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Cowboys.
Natchitoches Central (27-5) was led by Gabriella Cortez with 12 points and seven rebounds. Victoria Rachal added eight points and seven rebounds for the Lady Chiefs.
Their first state championship since the 2006 season, it is the 11th state championship for the Lady Cowboys (31-1) in the state’s highest classification since the 1992 season.
“We lost a tough one last year in the title game to Lafayette,” Southwood coach Steve McDowell said. “I said at the end of the game that these girls were going to persevere and they did. It took a lot of heart and determination tonight to beat a good Natchitoches Central team.”
Never trailing in the game, Southwood outscored Natchitoches Central 18-4 in the second quarter to build a 34-12 halftime lead and led by as much as 34 in the final quarter.
“That was a big point in the game,” McDowell said of the second-quarter run. “Thanks to our defense, we were really able to shut them down. We kept turning them over, and when you play hard like we did good things did.
“We also adjusted to their full-court pressure. It is something that teams sometimes struggle with, but we prepared well and were able to convert it into some big baskets.”
The smallest player on the court, the 5-foot-1 Ellis said she was excited to end up her Southwood career on top.
“I thought we deserved to win this game because of all of the work we put in all season long,” Ellis said. “We worked so hard and just listened to the coaching staff and knew what we had to do and when out there and did it. We wanted to do this for our coaching staff and all of our seniors because we hadn’t won a state championship since we had been here.
“At the beginning of the game I knew we would have an advantage inside and we just had to use that. I also knew that our advantage inside would allow me to have my mid-range jumper open all night long and we were able to get some easy baskets.”
Coaching in her last game of her Hall of Fame career, Natchitoches Central coach Emma Boozman said her team ran into a buzz-saw Saturday night.
“The game started off exactly how I didn’t want it to,” Boozman said. “Southwood really took it to us with their size. When you get down to a team like that with a team that big, it is really difficult for us to put together any sort of a comeback.”