Down 10 points and coming out of a third-quarter slump, the University High Lady Cubs needed to find something extra if they were to avenge an early season loss to Madison Prep and take home the championship trophy in the East Baton Rouge Girls Basketball tournament on Saturday.
They found that something extra in the post play of Terri Drake and tourney MVP Destiny Ephrom, the defense of Alyssa Fisher and the ball handling of Kaila Anderson, as they erased the Lady Chargers’ lead in the final eight minutes and escaped with a 50-48 win.
U-High coach Bonita Johnson had words for her team going into the final quarter.
“Madison Prep had won the third quarter, and I told them for us to win this game they had to win the fourth quarter, go all out from the beginning,” Johnson said. “They went out and played with guts and with intensity, and they got it done.”
Madison Prep (9-1) extended its 30-28 halftime lead behind the inside-outside play of Sherry Porter and Alexis Augustus to go ahead 42-32 after three quarters. Then the Cubs’ pressure defense, led by Fisher and the relentless rebounding of Drake and Ephrom, closed the gap.
Chelsea Verrett started the comeback with a 3-point shot for her only points of the second half.
Ephrom pulled U-High (7-6) within 45-44, and Drake collected two straight offensive rebounds and follow shots to put them up 48-45.
After Dezmanique Gaines scored for Madison Prep, Ephrom drained a 14-foot jumper. The clock ran out twice, but both times, the officials put time back on the clock, and the Cubs didn’t secure the win until the clock finally ran out on a scramble after an intentional miss on a free throw with a second to go.
“We lost to a good team,” Madison Prep coach Dwayne Hayes said. “We made some unforced turnovers there at the end. Thirteen turnovers in the first quarter cost us. We were able to come back, but we weren’t able to finish.
“Everyone that played for us played well and left it all on the court. It’s a game we’ll learn from, and we’ll just get ready for our next game and for our district,” he said.
As good as the Cubs defense was, forcing 13 turnovers in the first quarter and 28 for the game, they connected on just five of 19 attempts from the free-throw line.
“I think we had a little case of the jitters,” Anderson said. “We knew we had to win this one. We talked about it before the game, and we were ready.”
Ephrom led the Cubs with 16 points, followed by Verrett with 12.
Gaines was the top scorer for Madison Prep, scoring 14. Porter added 12.
The championship game wrapped up a full final day of the tournament at Belaire High. In earlier games, Woodlawn topped Capitol 49-38 for seventh place. Belaire defeated McKinley 54-49 for fifth place, and Scotlandville won the third place game 53-37 over Zachary.
The MVP award won by Ephrom was the first to be named for former Capitol, LSU and WNBA star Seimone Augustus.