SarahJane Ladut’s layup with less than 20 seconds left helped top-seeded Mandeville defeat No. 16 Helen Cox 45-44 in the second round of the Class 5A girls state basketball playoffs Monday night.

With the win, Mandeville (29-1) advances to the quarterfinals and will travel to take on No. 24 New Iberia on Thursday night.

Down 44-43 with 49.9 seconds remaining in the game coming out of a timeout, Elise Reilly found a streaking Ladut for a layup and the 45-44 lead.

“We knew at the end of the game it was going to be either me or SarahJane stepping up,” Reilly said. “My girl did it and made a tough shot to put us up.”

Ladut said she knew immediately her shot was in.

“The minute it let go of my hands, I knew it was mine,” she said. “This was the craziest game ever. What a win and what an atmosphere. We are excited to move on.”

Reilly finished the game as the leading scorer for the Skippers with 15 points. Ladut and Shantel Short each finished with 10.

Helen Cox (19-9) had a pair of shots at the end of the game for the win, but they came up short.

Down 41-38 with 4:14 to go in the game, Jazmine Aguillard and Brittany Hall hit back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Cougars a 44-41 advantage. Unfortunately for the Cougars, that was the last points of the game for Helen Cox.

“This was a championship-type atmosphere tonight,” Helen Cox coach Barbara Weary said. “What a great night of high school basketball. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Both teams came out and played extremely hard from the opening tip. We just had a few bad turnovers in key situations in the fourth quarter.

“Saying all that, we still had a chance to win it at the end and as a coaching staff that is all you can really ask for. We had two chances with the ball in our hands to win the ballgame. We just weren’t able to convert.”

Helen Cox led from the opening tip and held a 21-20 advantage at the half. Mandeville’s first lead came in the opening seconds of the second half on a bucket by Ladut.

“I told my team after the game that they deserve the packed house they played before,” an excited Mandeville coach Melissa Weinmunson said after the game. “My team has played hard all year long and they gave them a show tonight. I have been here (at Mandeville) for nine years and I haven’t seen the kind of atmosphere we saw tonight that often.

“It was a special night and I’m excited my team got to play in it tonight. What makes it even better is that we were able to pull it through and advance.”

Brittany Hall led Helen Cox with 14 points. Tyrionne Mart and Mya Phillips each had 10.