This time, there was no waiting around, no lull in the middle, no last minute push to victory.
With a trip to the quarterfinals — and the possibility of a rematch against defending Class 5A state champion Mount Carmel on the line — the Destrehan Wildcats controlled Monday night’s regional playoff game from start to finish to take an 83-66 victory against Covington.
This time Destrehan not only played its usual brutal defense, forcing the Lions into a flurry of first-half turnovers, the Wildcats also were hitting their shots. Destrehan hit eight 3-pointers as a team.
Sophomore standout Cara Ursin led all scorers with 26 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Jerlicia Morris scored 18 points with four 3-pointers. Brandi Mason and Kiki Kenner each scored 13 points and each knocked down a 3-point goal.
Not everything went Destrehan’s way. Covington let Destrehan take a quick 13-0 lead in the first 2:52 of the game, but then outscored the Wildcats 13-5 over the next four minutes.
With 1:06 remaining in the first quarter, the Lions had cut Destrehan’s lead to 18-14. But that was as close as the Lions would get for the rest of the game.
Metta Lombard led the Lions with 23 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Tashla McDowell scored 12 points and Arteria McDowell scored 10.
“I think what happened was, we came out and got a big lead, then we slacked,” Destrehan coach Angi Butler said. “And, you know, that can’t happen. I told the girls, ‘You can’t let them come back. You’re going to have to keep going, keep going, keep going and don’t let up.’ ”
The Wildcats certainly did not let up. By halftime, Destrehan had taken the ball 21 times from the Lions, while giving up only six turnovers.
“We knew we had to play probably our best game going against this bunch,” Covington coach Christine Beauvais said. “Just because they’ve got a lot of talent out there. We had played some tough teams throughout the year and beat some of them. We won 22 games, and that wasn’t by accident. We knew that our hands were full here tonight. We didn’t have any gimmick defenses. They were just too good.”
With the win, the No. 4-seeded Wildcats earned their rematch of last year’s Class 5A championship game against No. 5 seed Mount Carmel, which defeated No. 12 Carencro 75-55 on Thursday. Mount Carmel won last year’s championship game 69-60.
The two teams met once earlier this season in the Sugar Bowl Classic tournament, with Destrehan taking a 69-50 victory.
But Thursday night’s game will be different.
“They were missing one girl and Cara had an ankle injury that game,” Butler said. “I think that, with the battlefield being leveled, I think it’ll be a closer game. I don’t see it being a blowout. But I think we’re going to take it. I think the girls have enough passion and enough will right now that, they want that win. We lost it in the championship game last year and, you know, it’s not just the team we played before. It’s not just the team we lost to and we beat. It’s our state ring that we lost. So, we have a lot on the line.”
“This time we have something to play for,” Ursin said. “Any time we play them, we’re ready to play. We’re ready to win. We’re ready to fight. We didn’t’ get what we wanted and that still hurts.”