LHSAA State Girl's Basketball Championship

John Curtis’s (25) Jerkaila Jordan guards McKinley’s (34) Carley Gipson as she looks for a pass during the LHSAA State Girl's Basketball Championship game in Alexandria, on Saturday, March 3, 2018.

Tia Owens Powers

ALEXANDRIA - The John Curtis players started the "back-to-back" chant as soon as they hoisted the Division I trophy over their heads Saturday.

For the second straight year and the fifth time in school history, the Patriots finished on top.

In the process, they avenged their only loss of the season, beating McKinley 62-49 in the title game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls State Tournament at Rapides Coliseum.

The No. 1 seed Patriots finished 30-1 in bringing their fifth title to River Ridge to go along with the ones won in 2007, 2008, 2012 and last season.

It was the third one under Barbara Farris.

"It really is special," said Farris. "I rarely get emotional. I've had the luxury of coaching some very talented teams at John Curtis with Tia Charles (Nicholls State) and Kolby Morgan (Tulane) who are about to graduate from college. But this is a group that during (senior) Dynah Jones' freshman year that scored one point in a quarter. We weren't always this polished. But they bought in."

Just like last season in Hammond, it was Jerkaila Jordan leading the Patriots (30-1).

The sophomore finished with 21 points, five steals and four rebounds and took home the Most Outstanding Player plaque for a second straight year while avenging the 44-43 December loss.

"I just played my hardest like I always do," Jordan said. "I knew it was big game, especially since that was our only loss this season. And I just wanted to give my all since it was my last game with Dynah."

It's what Farris has come to expect from Jordan.

"She's just a basketball player," Farris said. "Everybody doesn't have the luxury of having that on their team. She's only going to get better. She works hard."

Jones, a Tulane signee, finished with two points in her final game. But her teammates more than picked up the slack.

Junior Salma Bates scored 14 points and sophomore Abryhia Irons chipped in 10 points and Alaan West had seven.

Bates made three 3-pointers. Her second 3-pointer came at the end of the first quarter, a desperation heave at the buzzer that somehow went in.

"I just threw it up there," Bates said. "I had to."

It cut what had been a 13-5 deficit to 13-12.

"We came out a little sluggish," Farris said. "They blitzed us. We had to withstand the run and outlast for four quarters. That was really the gameplan. We wanted to force some turnovers and get some easy baskets."

Bates' buzzer-beater was part of an 11-0 run that started in the first quarter and spilled over into the second.

"You look at Salma and she looks meek, timid," Farris said. "But she is very pitbull-esque, especially on the defensive end because of her length."

The game shifted late in the second quarter.

Curtis led 24-20 when McKinley picked up a foul followed by a technical foul. That was followed up by an "administrative technical foul" because of a wrong jersey number listed in the official scorer's book.

"We appreciated the momentum shift with the book being wrong," Farris said.

Curtis made five of the six free throws to stretch the lead to 29-20, then 30-20 at halftime. The Patriots stayed in control the rest of the way. 

"That was a big turn in the game," said McKinley coach Krystal Huggins-Flowers.

But Huggins-Flowers said the biggest problem was turnovers.

"We started of the game great but after that, we didn't take care of the ball," Huggins-Flowers said. "We finished the first half with 18 turnovers. Eighteen against a team like John Curtis is hard to bounce back from. And then the offensive and defensive rebounds, they pretty much beat us on the boards and just outhustled us."

Alexius Horne scored 18 points and Caira Wren had 13 for the Panthers (30-4), but it wasn't enough as the Patriots ended their season in the championship game for a second straight year.

It was the perfect ending for Curtis seniors Jones, West, Breione Brown and Da'Jha Virgil.

"This experience has been amazing to me," Jones said. "Just having the bond that we did. It's like a sisterhood and I love them to death."

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.