HAMMOND — When Christina Anderson became Parkview Baptist’s interim basketball coach after Christmas, she asked her talented team to reciprocate the belief she had in them.
Just over two months later Anderson’s become the team’s permanent head coach and the Eagles are on the brink of making school history.
No. 4 Parkview Baptist continued its magical run since Anderson was elevated from assistant to interim coach to head coach, guiding the Eagles to a wire-to-wire 59-45 victory Wednesday over No. 1 Iota in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center.
“It seems just like yesterday that I stepped up into the head coaching position,” Anderson said. “The girls’ attitude was so positive. It could have been a situation where they fell apart, just finish the season and walk away. Instead they got it together.”
Parkview Baptist (25-10), which is 16-1 since Anderson took over the team, will play for its first state championship against No. 2 Jewel Sumner, a 67-43 winner over University High at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Skylar Goodwin was initially skeptical of the move of Anderson, who represented the team’s third head coach in as many years. After registering a double-double in the semifinal with a game-high 31 points and 10 rebounds, the junior guard could only reflect with great approval.
“I didn’t think the transition was going to be good at first,” said Goodwin, who made 10-of-16 shots and also had five steals. “We’ve had some coaching turnover, and I didn’t know what to expect. But she’s the best coach we’ve ever had.”
Parkview exhibited its coach’s defense-first mentality and toughness, outrebounding Iota 40-29, and limiting the perimeter-oriented Bulldogs (27-6) to 29.4 percent shooting and forced 25 turnovers.
Just when it appeared the Eagles were on the verge of losing the lead for the first time, Goodwin scored seven consecutive points to re-establish control with a 43-34 lead with 4:50 remaining.
Before that Iota had put together an 8-0 run that bridged the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth, capped by Madeline Gatte’s second-chance basket.
“I just told the team that we couldn’t let them get ahead of us,” PBS forward Leah Collins, who scored 20 points and had a game-high 13 rebounds. “We had the lead pretty much the whole game and letting them get ahead of us would have cost us the momentum.”
Goodwin scored 21 of her game-high total in the second half, including her key stretch after Iota had gotten as close since the game was tied at 3-3.
Parkview, which led 14-7 after the first quarter and 25-18 at halftime, led by as many as 15 points (51-36) after Goodwin’s three-point play and outscored Iota 23-11 over the final six minutes.
“I was looking at the most talented team in 3A as far as ability, and the experience they had playing together up until now,” Anderson said. “I told them if they could come together as a team, no one would stop us.”