Who needs a fast start when you have a fantastic finish?

University High trailed by nine points at halftime. The Class 3A Cubs scored 54 second-half points while notching an 83-61 victory over 4A Ellender High in nondistrict girls basketball action Thursday night at U-High.

“In the first half, I don’t know what it was,” UHS’ Destiny Ephrom said. “We were rushing our shots. Things weren’t going right.

“At halftime we reminded them that the post players have their back. We told them we were open. In the second half they used us.”

Ephrom finished with a game-high 21 points and had seven rebounds for the Cubs (27-2), who took control with a decisive 15-2 third-quarter run.

Kaila Anderson added 13 points, while Dahlia John added 11 and Mikayla Bates had 10 for the winners. Sky Jasper finished with 17 points to pace Ellender (19-10), which had beaten, St. Michael the Archangel, on Wednesday night. Kiara Scott added 15 points and Kira Coleman contributed 12 for the Patriots.

The game was a homecoming for first-year Ellender coach Adrian Blake, a former Capitol star and teammate of current WNBA star Seimone Augustus. EHS starters Coleman and post player Kiara Jones fouled out in the third quarter and was pivotal for the Houma-area team

“We got in foul trouble,” Blake said. “Two of my starters fouled out in the third quarter. That’s what killed us. We led by 12 points at one point I think. Once my starters got in trouble, that was it. We don’t have a lot of depth.

“Playing back-to-back nights maybe bothered us a little. We’ll learn from this. Coach (Bonita) Johnson (UHS coach) has always been a great mentor to me, and I’m glad we got to play this one.”

U-High held a 4-0 lead but never seemed to develop a rhythm. The Cubs missed a series of chances to score around the basket during the first half.

A 6-0 run that included a layup by Marygrace Constatin gave UHS a 15-9 lead with 2:39 left in the first quarter. Ellender scored eight of the final nine points. Two free throws by Kiara Scott with 23.7 seconds left sent Ellender into the second quarter with a 17-16 lead.

The Patriots then outscored U-High 21-13 in the second quarter. UHS made 5 of 18 shots from the field in the quarter.

Sky Jasper’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Ellender a 38-29 lead at halftime. The Cubs came on strong in the third quarter. Ephrom scored eight early points. A 3-pointer by Alanie Fisher gave UHS a 46-44 lead with 2:11 left in the third quarter.

Anderson added a 3-pointer to fuel the 15-2 UHS run. The Cubs led 51-46 going into the fourth quarter.

From there, U-High kicked it under yet another gear, outscoring Ellender 32-15 to close the game.

“The third quarter was the determining factor,” UHS’ Johnson said. “At halftime we told them to get it together, and they came out fired up.”