HAMMOND — Madison Prep converted plenty of skeptics with an eye-popping playoff run that included multiple double-digit wins.
This time, the sixth-seeded Chargers just couldn’t convert enough fourth-quarter shots.
Top-seeded North Caddo seized the opportunity and a state title by scoring 13 of the final 16 points to claim a 56-48 victory over Madison Prep in the Class 2A title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament on Saturday.
“We had a chance to win the ballgame,” Madison Prep coach Dwayne Hayes said. “We didn’t score as well as we usually do. It was a very physical ballgame. I think we played hard. I thought North Caddo played hard. Their experience made a difference.”
Title-game MVP Jasmine Thomas scored a game-high 17 points and made several key shots down the stretch to help the Rebels (35-1) win their third straight Class 2A state title in the game played at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center.
Thomas ran the NCHS offense and remained aggressive defensively despite picking up her fourth foul with 6:47 remaining. Thomas was 9 of 15 from the free-throw line. Sumer Williams added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the winners, who also got 11 points from freshman Destiny Rice.
Kennedi Green and Alexis Augustus each had 10 points for Madison Prep (31-5), which was making its first tourney appearance in only its third varsity season for girls basketball.
“We played with intensity, and they attacked,” North Caddo coach Sandra Dennis said. “We were a little sluggish in the beginning, but they came out on top.
“(Madison Prep) was aggressive and they play the same type of ball we play. They’re talented. We saw that.”
And so did the fans. The teams traded baskets and took turns racing up and down the court. A Williams jumper sent North Caddo into the second quarter with a 12-10 lead.
The Rebels methodically built a nine-point lead in the second quarter. Two free throws by MPA’s Green with 3.6 remaining cut it to six, at 27-21, at halftime.
Madison Prep climbed back into the game a couple of times in the third quarter, but never took the lead. A putback by Dezmanique Gaines just before the buzzer cut North Caddo’s lead to two at 38-36.
Shardae Melancon tied it with a jumper from the wing less than a minute into the final quarter. Two free throws by Sherry Porter gave the Chargers a 41-40 lead with 5:54 remaining.
Porter, who averaged 19 points per game, fouled out a short time later, but the Chargers continued to battle. Augustus forced a turnover and made two ensuing free throws that gave MPA a 45-43 lead with 4:20 remaining.
Thomas scored on a jumper off a Charger turnover to make it 47-45 with 3:06 remaining. That play ignited the decisive final run.
Madison Prep brought the runner-up trophy into the postgame interview room, something few teams do. It was a point of pride.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” Hayes said of his Madison Prep team. “We still a young team and program and to be able to play on the last day of high school basketball is Louisiana is big – it says something.”