When Cara Ursin left the game midway through the third quarter, it appeared Ursuline Academy had an opportunity to pull off one of the season’s earliest upsets.
But Destrehan’s sophomore sensation came back right before the end of the third quarter and was a major reason the Wildcats (1-0) were able to defeat Ursuline (2-1) 60-52 in the first round of the Dominican Thanksgiving Classic on Monday.
“I think our ball-handling dropped a little bit in that third quarter, and we just got out of out of our game,” Destrehan coach Angi Butler said. “But once Cara came back, it gave us a lift and she was great…She told me at halftime that her shot wasn’t falling, so I told her go to the goal. That’s what we do.”
Ursin, who averaged 17 points per game on the 31-2 Wildcats’ team which made it to the state championship game last year, appeared to leave the game in the third quarter after “landing wrong on her ankle”, Butler said. She came back into the game with about 40 seconds left in the third quarter and scored on the last possession on a fast break layup to tie the score at 42 heading into the fourth.
Once Ursin returned, she took over the game. The sophomore guard scored 11 of her game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter, including nine in an 11-2 run which stretched the Wildcats’ lead to 55-44 midway through the fourth quarter.
Ursin finished with 29 points, going 10-of-18 from the floor with four rebounds and five steals. Guard Jasmine Morris added nine points, six assists and three rebounds.
“(Ursin) got frustrated after her injury, because she doesn’t like coming out of the game,” Butler said. “She knows she’s an integral piece to our offense and our defense, so she’s motivated to come back no matter what the injury.”
Both teams saw their star players making plays in a back-and-forth first half.
Ursin scored 16 of her team’s 33 points in the first two quarters, while Ursuline guard Kourtney Weber, following a 22-point, 14-rebound performance in the Lions’ 56-45 victory over Bonnabel last week, scored 13 points in the first half, going 3-of-5 from the field.
The freshman finished with 19 points, five rebounds and four steals. Guard Brooklyn Mitchell scored 17 points and added five rebounds and three steals.
Butler said an increased focus on Weber coming out of halftime was key in slowing down her production.
“We decided we were kind of going to box (Weber) in during the second half,” Butler said. “She scored most of their points in the first half, and we wanted to focus our energy on her. Once we got back in the lead, we went back into our normal 1-2-2 zone to give Jasmine a bit of a break.”