Ursuline Academy wins first state title with 61-48 victory over Rayne in Class 4A _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Rayne's Tajane Butler drives past Ursuline's Giordin Johnson in the Cass 4A final of the Girls Top 28 tournament Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana's University Center in Hammond.

HAMMOND — Rayne High’s dream of a state title in girls basketball came so close to reality.

The sixth-seeded Wolves and No. 8 Ursuline Academy played toe-to-toe for three quarters. Rayne even led 48-47 with 5:51 left.

But title-game MVP Kourtney Weber helped fuel a decisive 14-0 fourth-quarter surge that lifted Ursuline Academy to a 61-48 victory over Rayne in the Class 4A title game that closed out the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament on Saturday night.

Weber finished with a game-high 29 points for the Lions (27-5), who won their first basketball title.

Weber scored six points during the final surge at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center.

Charlesha Dugas led Rayne (31-3) with 17 points.

A crowd of 20,948 attended the five-day tourney.

The teams looked evenly matched from the opening tip. Rayne’s Whitley Larry scored first, but the score was tied three times in the first quarter.

Dugas stole the ball and drove in for a quick layup that put Rayne ahead 17-15 with 12.2 seconds remaining.

Ursuline’s Kiersten Nelson was fouled at the buzzer and made both free throws to tie it.

Larry opened the second-quarter scoring with two free throws. Weber quickly tied it with a jumper from the right side.

Weber finished with 14 points in the opening half. Baskets by Larry, who had 10 first-half points, and Amari Collins gave Rayne a degree of separation.

But the Wolves never extended their lead beyond four points until late in the half. Dugas scored on another layup that gave Rayne a 31-25 lead at the 1:03 mark.

Ursuline had one last answer. This time Giordin Johnson made a jumper from the right side of the key.

Rayne led 31-27 at halftime and the issue was hardly settled.

Urusline went on a lightning quick 7-0 run. Weber hit a 3-pointer, Brooklyn Mitchell scored on a layup off a turnover and Weber scored yet again.

Finally, Urusline had the lead at 35-33. The Lions extended their lead to 38-33 midway through the third quarter. Rayne eventually tied it on a 3-pointer by Dugas and took a 40-38 lead when Ti’esha Young converted a layup in transition.

Weber had the last third-quarter shot. She scored on a layup at the buzzer, was fouled and made the free throw to give Ursuline a 45-42 advantage.