University High played catch-up for most of the night and saw their trip through the playoffs with a No. 3 seed in jeopardy on their home court in second-round Class 3A girls basketball playoffs action on Monday.
But they scrapped back against No. 14 Ville Platte, and when reserve Maya Marshall scored her first and only basket of the night with six-tenths of a second remaining, U-High survived with a 54-53 win.
Trailing 53-52 with 12.2 seconds left, U-High played the ball in after its final time out. Guard Kaila Anderson, whose 3-pointer gave them a 51-49 lead earlier, took the ball the length of the floor. Her shot in the lane rolled off the rim to the left, where Marshall grabbed the rebound for an uncontested follow shot and the victory.
It was a crazy win in what U-High coach Bonita Johnson said has been a crazy season. Her team is now 27-4, but has played the last few games without two of their top players, Destiny Ephrom and Alyssa Fisher, who are out with injuries.
“They’ve been out for about two weeks,” Johnson said, “and that has given us time to build up our confidence (without them). I thought two of our players really stepped up tonight. Faith Kwentua, who’s a sophomore, had a double-double: 15 points and 14 rebounds. And Chelsea Verrett had five straight 3s at a time we needed them to keep us in the game.”
In the early going, it was the Ville Platte tandem of Kabreonna Stevens and Zaria Fontenot who got the large contingent of Bulldog followers fired up and cheering. They each had a 3-pointer in the first quarter when Stevens had eight points and Fontenot seven as the visitors took a 16-7 lead.
Kwentua led the Lady Cubs back with a nine-point second quarter, but Miya McKinney countered with six, and the Lady Bulldogs led at halftime 25-22.
Five players scored for Ville Platte in the third quarter to only two for U-High, but one of those was Verrett, who found nothing but the bottom of the net on five straight 3-point attempts. The Cubs needed her output because Ville Platte opened the second half on a 4-0 run.
The Bulldogs led 43-39 going into the final quarter and it was beginning to look as if the team with the last possession would win. And that’s exactly what happened.
The teams combined to miss 11 free throws in the final quarter, and the action on the floor was intense. U-High had seven turnovers in the quarter, and Ville Platte had six.
Anderson’s 3-pointer gave U-High a 51-49 lead with 1:40 left. Ty’Reonna Doucet tied it a 51 with an inside shot, then blocked Anderson’s shot at 1:22. After a Terri Drake free throw made it 52-51 U-High, Doucet drove and scored again to set up the final heroics by Marshall.
“We had some tough losses down the road when we didn’t play hard enough,” Ville Platte coach Dorothy Doulet said, “but tonight we played hard and gave it all we had. We just had too many errors and missed too many free throws.
“Free throws and missing easy layups. We just took it for granted and let it slip away. They (U-High) had a good run, and they got the win.”
Verrett led all scorers with 20 points on six 3-pointers and two free throws. Anderson finished with 10 for the Cubs.
Ville Platte’s leaders were Stevens with 13, McKinney with 11 and Doucet with 10.