Warren Easton guard Kechelle Figueroa wasn’t about to let her team’s perfect record get a blemish Friday.
Figueroa took over the second half and finished with a career-high 24 points as top-ranked Easton beat No. 2 Karr 48-44 in the quarterfinals of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic at the Alario Center.
Not even a tweaked ankle with 3:12 remaining could slow down the junior guard, who scored 17 points in the second half.
It was just the kind of game she wanted after suffering a knee injury against Karr last season.
“Every time we play Karr it seems like I have been getting injured,” Figueroa said. “This time I said I wasn’t going to give up.”
It was also the kind of performance Easton coach Darius Mims expects from Figueroa, especially after having a talk with her about two months ago. .
“We had a heart-to-heart talk,” Mims said. “She isn’t the team captain, but I let her know she is the leader of this team. She told me, ‘Coach, I promise you I am going to start doing better.’ ”
Easton (18-0) advances to a No. 6-ranked Mount Carmel in an 11 a.m. Saturday semifinal . The winner of that one will play play the Salmen-Destrehan winner Saturday’s 5 p.m. championship game.
Early in the third quarter, it looked as if it may be Karr (14-2) that would be headed to the semifinals.
The Cougars, sparked by the hot shooting of Rehema Franklin, led 38-25 with 6:11 left in the third after a layup by Paige Williams.
But that’s when Figueroa got going.
Her putback basket started a 17-0 run that began midway through the third quarter and spilled into the fourth.
“We refused to box out and make defensive adjustments,” Karr coach Jessica Barber said. “Defensively we just have no desire at times.”
The offense didn’t fare much better, going 8 minutes, 34 seconds without scoring a point.
The drought didn’t end until Williams’ 3-pointer with 5:37 left.
It came just moments after a Figueroa steal and layup gave Easton a 42-41 lead, its first of the game.
The 5-foot-6 Figueroa was just getting started.
She scored all but two of her team’s points the rest of the way.
She made one of two free throws with 1:48 left to break a 44-44 tie, then scored after Easton got the rebound on the miss.
Then, with 48 seconds left, she rebounded her missed free throw to all but seal it.
“That’s what she does,” Mimms said. “She steps up big for me when she has to.”
Keirra Williams scored nine points for Easton.
Franklin knocked down six 3-pointers, including four in the first quarter, and finished with 18 points to pace Karr. Imani Mulmore scored 10.
Now Easton turns its attention to Mount Carmel, a team it beat 79-63 on Monday night.
“I’m a little concerned because we beat them pretty handily a couple days ago in our gym,” Mimms said. “They shoot the ball well and have championship experience on a championship stage. We have our work cut out for us.”
Mount Carmel 64, John Curtis 49: Taylor Berry scored 20 points to lead the No. 6-ranked Cubs.
Mallory Gardner chipped in 14 points for Mount Carmel (15-4), which plays top-ranked Warren Easton in a Saturday morning semifinal.
“Either way, we knew we were going to end up playing one of maybe the two best teams in the state,” MCA coach Kevin McGlathery said.
Dynah Jones scored 23 points to lead the Patriots.