ALEXANDRIA — All good things eventually come to an end. The first Division II semifinal game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Basketball tournament was riveting and enjoyable.
It ended with St. Louis Catholic celebrating an 87-86 overtime victory over University High when Myca Trail’s shot in the lane rolled in with less than a second remaining.
It was a quite a start for Tuesday’s games at the Rapides Parish Coliseum and it also brought U-High’s season to an abrupt end.
“It was a great game. … I thought we played hard, I thought we played awesome and kept going with eight players,” University coach Bonita Johnson said. “But we had too many turnovers and too many missed free throws.”
The game was also a showcase for U-High senior Kennedy Paul, who finished with game-highs of 36 points and 17 rebounds. Paul put the third-seeded Cubs up 86-85 by scoring on a driving layup with 12 seconds remaining.
Trail’s basket capped an improbable run for second-seeded St. Louis (30-2), which trailed by 17 points in the third quarter. The 5-foot-8 freshman led St. Louis with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
Anaiya Turner (22) and Alexandria Goodly (21) were other leaders for the Saints. Alyssa Fisher (18) and Sahvani Sancho (17) were the other leaders for UHS (23-13).
St. Louis advances to the title-game for the first time since 2009. It faces the other local Division II power, top-seeded Lee High at 2 p.m. Friday. The Patriots beat Ursuline 79-61 in the other semifinal.
“We got stagnant on offense,” St. Louis coach Tony Johnson said. “We had cut it to five and then they went back up by 13. I called a time out and talked to the kids about what got us here. They (the Cubs) were dictating what we were doing. When we started playing our basketball game, that is when things started to change.”
St. Louis grabbed an early 5-0 lead that Paul quickly erased with a 3-pointer and a layup. With Paul scoring 12 first-quarter points, the Cubs methodically built a lead.
A basket by Jada Latore extended the UHS lead to 17-8 with 4:05 left in the opening quarter. The Cubs led 22-15 after one quarter and managed to keep the Saints at arm’s length and then some for the next two quarters. It was 40-27 at halftime.
Each time St. Louis made a run, the Cubs seemed to find the answer. Aaliyah Williams scored on a putback that got the Saints within five at 46-41 with 4:13 left in the third quarter. U-High responded with eight straight points and led 61-48 after three straights.
Foul trouble prompted St. Louis to move to a match-up zone defense. The move led to more turnovers for U-High. The Cubs had 18 turnovers in the second half and overtime period.
Turner sank two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and actually gave her a team a 70-69 lead with 2:13 left. Two free throws by Trail with 15.8 seconds left sent the game to overtime. The Cubs led by four points twice during the overtime.
U-High’s Johnson paid tribute to the seniors, Paul and Fisher.
“Kennedy Paul … I think she left it all on the floor,” Johnson said. “Alyssa … she gave it all she had and played through an injury.”