District 6-5A produced the Class 5A girls basketball state champion Ponchatoula a season ago.
Thursday night, two teams that hope to supplant the Green Wave atop 6-5A battled in a matchup of unbeatens.
Mandeville (14-0, 1-0) handed Covington (8-1, 1-1) its first loss with a 47-36 win.
Arteria McDowell’s bucket with 2:44 left in the first quarter gave Covington a 9-7 lead. McDowell was held to six points total. That was the last basket for Covington in the quarter. Mandeville responded with a 9-0 run to take a 16-9 lead.
Chastity Garrett’s bucket with 5:50 left in the second quarter ended the scoring drought for Covington, but Mandeville again responded with a run, this time 6-0. Shantel Short’s basket gave Mandeville its biggest lead at 22-12.
Garrett led Covington with 15 points and Sydney Houlemard had nine. Short led Mandeville with a game-high 21 points. Elise Reilly had 16.
“Fourteen and oh,” Reilly said, “that was without a doubt our biggest game of the season thus far. You knew before this game even started that we were going to have a big test (Thursday night). Covington is really good and one of the best teams we have played thus far this season.
“It also marked the start of district play for us, which is of course always important. You want hold serve at home and try and steal some wins on the road. We got off to a good start (Thursday night). We were a very prepared team tonight and did what we had to do to win.”
Short scored all 10 of Mandeville’s points in the third quarter. Her basket with 3:45 to go in the quarter gave the Skippers their biggest lead at 36-22.
Covington briefly got the Mandeville lead below double-digits at 36-28 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but a 7-2 run by Mandeville pushed the lead to 43-30 and all but put the game out of reach.
Reilly said the Skippers defense was more impressive than what they did offensively.
“Way more important,” she said, “especially when you are playing quality post players like Arteria and Tashia McDowell. We knew coming into the game every time they got the ball they were a threat to score. We were able to limit how much they hurt us tonight.
“But we are still unbeaten, which is great. I don’t want to think about an undefeated streak, but a win like this one tonight is something you want to savor.”