Emily Bourque drilled a pivotal 3-pointer that put the brakes on a Ben Franklin comeback bid and propelled St. Thomas More to a 47-33 victory and a berth in the Division II quarterfinals in girls basketball playoff action Monday at STM.
The Lady Cougars (25-7) led by as many as 13 points midway through the second quarter but the Falcons battled back and came within 23-19 following a free throw by Anna Trumbach early in the second half.
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STM seized control for good, however, and extended its lead to 32-23 when Bourque found nothing but net from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter.
"I don't want to say she's been our everything, but she kind of embodies what our team is about," STM coach Stephen Strojny said of Bourque. "We're very young. She's the only senior that didn't quit the team out of all of the seniors that were in her class when she was younger.
"She stuck it out and she makes big plays. When you look at her, she's 5-4 and only 95 pounds, but she's averaging 18-to-20 points per game. We needed that play because they had gained momentum."
Bourque had 10 points and was joined in double digits by forward Olivia Guidry, who paced all scorers with 14 points, and guard Angelle Doucet (11 points).
"Olivia is only a 10th-grader," Strojny said. "We ask her to do a lot. She scores from the perimeter and can get to the rim.
"She used to just be a catch-and-shoot player but has been learning recently to really develop her game. We lean on her. She tends to always be in the right place at the right time."
Strojny also praised another pair of sophomores.
"We went man-to-man in the fourth quarter and Claire Hader, who normally starts for us, picked up No. 1 (Ben Franklin point guard Asia Pasley), who was hot, and got three consecutive steals," he said.
"Claire's been a lockdown defender for us and we needed to go man, because we thought they were getting into a groove. Claire stepped up and got those steals which was really big for us."
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Madison Prejean scored all eight of her points in the first half, including three straight field goals in the second quarter that pushed STM's lead to 21-8.
"We needed a shot in the arm towards the middle of the second half and Madison came in and gave us some good minutes," Strojny said.
"We hadn't played in 10 days. We were rusty and we showed it. We knew they were going to be a very good defensive team, as they were. Those New Orleans teams usually play very good defense but when they made a run, we responded every time."
Jada Washington dropped in 11 points for the ninth-seeded Falcons (17-12). Trumbach added nine while Pasley scored seven.
"We knew that if we kept pushing the pace, that they wouldn't have their legs in the end," Strojny said. "That's why we went to man-to-man in the fourth. Claire guarded their best player (Pasley).
"We tell our players that you have to have that dog in you to be a good defender. Everyone has a dog in them. Some people have the wrong kind of dog. Claire has the right kind of dog. She has the Rottweiler in her, not the Chihuahua."
Strojny said his eighth-seeded squad came into the contest battle-tested.
Twenty-six Acadiana area girls basketball teams will be participating in the LHSAA's 12 playoff brackets announced Monday morning.
"There was a point in the game where Franklin was gaining momentum and everybody could feel it and see it," he said, "but we've played a relatively tough schedule and lost four or five one-point games.
"They tried to put some pressure on us and we knew once we could extend them — get them playing defense out past the free-throw line — that they wouldn't be able to guard us."