Mount Carmel rides 28-1 second-half outburst to win over Natchitoches Central _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Mount Carmel's Lauren Bodine makes a layup against Natchitoches Central in a Class 5A semifinal at the Girls Top 28 tournament on March 1 at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond.

It was just six days ago that Mount Carmel brought a state championship trophy to Milne Boulevard.

That was in soccer.

The Cubs can add another Friday, putting one more in the trophy case in what has already been a pretty successful school year.

Mount Carmel plays Denham Springs on Friday in the Class 5A title game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Girls Top 28 Tournament Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center.

It would be the school’s third state championship this school year after also winning a volleyball title in the fall.

“It would be a special thing,” said first-year Mount Carmel coach Jamie Thomatis. “There is a lot of pressure no doubt, and I’m sure the girls will feel that too.”

Mount Carmel (28-6), the No. 2 seed, is seeking its second basketball title in three years. The Cubs come in on a 10-game winning streak and having won 18 of their last 19 games.

Denham Springs (30-3), is the No. 5 seed and is just as hot, having won 24 of its past 25 games.

Thomatis saw a lot of her Cubs when watching the Yellow Jackets.

“We are evenly matched,” Thomatis said. “They have a good point guard. I have a good point guard. They have a couple good shooters like we do. They have size, and we have size. I think we are similar in every position.”

Denham Springs coach Shelly Laprarie agreed. She saw the Cubs first hand two seasons ago when Mount Carmel won its first girls basketball state title.

“There are some players for them we faced two years ago,” Laprarie said. “No. 14 (Paige Franckiewicz) came in and hit some big 3s for them. Now they have more added size in the post player (Ellie Holzman) inside. Mount Carmel gives you a lot to prepare for because they can hurt you outside and inside.

“We also have some size, and I think that adds to it. We’ll come in with a game plan and options we can go to. We’ll keep working. I think we’re a better team defensively than we were the last time. I’d think that our balance on offense will make it an interesting matchup.”

Franckiewicz, who will play at Loyola next season, is joined in the Cubs lineup by Kristen Nuss, Megan Donaldson, Lauren Bodino and Holzman.

The Yellow Jackets, who knocked off top-seed Mandeville in the semifinals, counter with Maia Robinson, Christina Canale, Caroline Taylor, Tremeka Spikes and Lexi McMorris.

Mount Carmel defeated Natchitoches Central in the semifinals, going on a 30-1 run in the second half to pull away.

“We want to have a good start and not have lulls in our play,” Thomatis said.

Nuss is hoping the Cubs’ Top 28 experience can help.

“I don’t think Denham Springs has as much experience as we do,” Nuss said. “I think that’s a big confidence boost and momentum for us.”

Nuss, a senior, played on the state championship volleyball team as well as the basketball title team two years ago. Now she and the other seniors are looking to add one more.

“We have several pieces that were part of the volleyball state championship and girls who were on the state championship team two years ago,” Thomatis said. “So they know how to pull out wins. I think that’s an advantage for us. To be able to take this home, especially coming just a week after the soccer championship would be big. I know the administration would love it.”