Denham Springs uses huge third-quarter rally to trip Zachary _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Denham's Lexi McMorris grabs a rebound in front of Zachary's Tamia Veal on Friday night during a home game in Denham Springs.

Denham Springs High had to rally to beat Zachary High to keep an impressive girls basketball winning streak alive last month.

With the streak still intact, DSHS (25-2, 8-0) travels to Zachary (21-9, 7-1) with two objectives Tuesday night — clinch the District 4-5A title and extend its win streak to 20 games.

“The last time we played, both teams knew this was possible,” Denham Springs coach Shelly Laprarie said. “The first game was a good one. Zachary got off to the great start, and we were able to come back and beat them.

“Both teams were able to take care of business since then and that’s set up this one. I’ve told my team if you can’t get up for this one, I don’t know what you need to get up for a game.”

Game time is set for approximately 6:30 p.m. at Zachary for the game that helps highlight a schedule abbreviated by the Mardi Gras holiday.

Tara (8-14, 5-1) travels to Plaquemine (20-4, 6-0) for a pivotal District 6-4A boys game at approximately 7 p.m.

The Denham Springs girls haven’t lost since falling to John Curtis on Dec. 4. Another chance to knock off DSHS to gain a tie atop the district standings isn’t the only motivation for Zachary.

ZHS is one of five 4-5A teams rated high enough in the LHSAA’s power rankings to garner playoff berths. The Broncos are 16th and a win over No. 5 Denham Springs would move Zachary up.

“We’ve got more experience since the last time we played them,” Zachary coach Mike Stephens said. “We played the toughest schedule we could early in the year and played from behind in most of our games. That game against Denham was first time in a big game where we had the lead.

“That was something for this group to learn from. We’re excited about the chance to play Denham Springs at home.”

Post player Tremeeka Spikes leads Denham Springs with a 14 ppg. scoring average. Joining the 5-foot-10 Spikes are two 5-6 guards, Lexi McMorris (12 ppg) and Caroline Taylor (10 ppg).

Bryana Langford (5-9) leads Zachary with a 14.3 scoring average, while 5-5 Rayah Haynes adds 13.0. Tamia Veal, a 6-0 post player, averages 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Broncos, who have won nine of their past 10 games.

Some the parameters from the first game won by DSHS 53-48 remain the same.

For example, Denham Springs needs to limit the dribble penetration of the Zachary guards. In turn, the Broncos need to defend the Yellow Jackets’ 3-point shooters.

“This is a game that will prepare us for the playoffs,” ZHS’ Stephens said. “Really, the whole district has been like that.”

TARA AT PLAQUEMINE: With a losing record, Tara isn’t the typical district title contender, but coach THS coach Marqus Mitchell said his team has grown into the role.

The Trojans lost to Plaquemine by four points at home. After getting a forfeit win by Belaire, Tara edged the Bengals 61-59 on Friday night.

“That first game with Plaquemine, and then getting that forfeit last week gave us some confidence,” Mitchell said. “We’re young and this team is starting to gel together.

“I know there was talk about moving this game to Monday or Wednesday. But after the parade, everybody in Plaquemine is going to be at the gym. I want my team to play in that atmosphere, to get that experience.”

The Trojans are led by 5-10 junior Josh Bell, who averages 16.5 points per game. Another junior, 6-3 Patrick Arnold, adds 10 points per game. Christopher Hayes (6-2) adds nine points a game.