One of the top girls basketball players on the north shore put her team on her back to help them remain unbeaten Tuesday night.
Mandeville senior guard Elise Reilly had 30 points as Mandeville, No. 1 in the LHSAA power rankings, defeated No. 8 Covington 52-46 in District 6-5A play.
“This one was tough,” Reilly said. “Covington is a really good team and us being down at halftime was a reality check.”
Coming into the game, the Covington (18-8, 6-2) game plan was to try to make everyone else on the Mandeville (23-0, 7-0) team beat them. The plan worked early.
After Chastity Garrett’s 3-pointer tied the game for Covington at 46-46 with 3:41 left in the fourth quarter, Reilly and Shantel Short answered with back-to-back buckets to give the Skippers the lead for good. Covington was held scoreless the final 3:41.
Garrett had 17 points to lead Covington and Arteria McDowell had 10.
“We knew this was going to be a different atmosphere tonight,” Mandeville coach Melissa Weinmunson said. “This was a playoff-type atmosphere. I took a wild guess at practice this week that (Covington) was going to throw a triangle-in-two defense at us to try and take Shantel and Elise out.
“I put on our board that everybody on the team has to be an offensive threat, and it turned out we needed everybody we played tonight to score points. Everybody bought into that and did what they needed to do for us to come away with a very big win tonight.”
A back-and-forth game throughout, the biggest deficit the Skippers faced was early in the third quarter. Back-to-back buckets by McDowell gave Covington a 29-21 advantage with 6:10 to go in the third quarter.
“We knew we had to just remain focused,” Reilly said. “If we wanted to win and stay in control of this district, we knew everybody on the roster was going to have to step up. Credit goes to my teammates tonight. Jannah Boudreaux had an important six points, and Sarah Jane Ladut had nine. That was the difference in the game.
“I know it sounds cliché to say it after the fact, but that has been a big focus for us in practice, particularly this week. This was a true team win tonight.”
After falling behind 6-0, Covington responded with a 14-3 run to take a 14-9 lead with 1:36 to go in the opening quarter.
“We thought we could do a few things on defense,” Lions coach Christine Beauvais said. “I challenged some of our players. They stepped up and showed up. It was a triangle-in-two defense we threw at them. When we played them earlier in the season, both Shantel Short and Reilly hurt us. We took some of our better defensive players and told them let’s try and shut them down. We did a pretty good job of it in the first half.”
The top-ranked team in the New Orleans Advocate Super 10, Mandeville will look to remain unbeaten on Thursday when they host Fontainebleau. Covington will host Ponchatoula on Friday.
The game was delayed 32 minutes at the start as officials were stuck in traffic because of a wreck on Interstate 12.