Episcopal's Izzy Besselman scored 18 of her game-high 26 points in the second half to power the Knights to a 43-27 win over Port Allen in the District 8-2A girls basketball tournament final at EHS on Saturday.
Top-seeded EHS (22-5) outscored the second-seeded Pelicans (8-14) in every quarter and won its ninth straight game. EHS was the top seed last season and ended up playing in the third-place game with Port Allen winning its first district title in 36 years.
“Port Allen decided to dance on our court last year, so we were highly motivated this year,” said EHS senior Kennedy Clark, a 5-8 defensive specialist who grabbed six rebounds. “I guarded their best players today. I stayed low and moved my feet. We played great team defense.”
Episcopal held Port Allen to just three points in the second quarter while taking an 18-12 halftime lead and just five points in the fourth quarter.
Besselman scored 10 points in the third quarter and 18 of Episcopal’s 25 second-half points. The 5-foot-10 sophomore forward added 12 rebounds, six blocks and two steals.
“Izzy is a special player with a long wing span,” EHS coach Taylor Mims said. “In the second half, we finally got some spacing to dribble attack and finish inside or kick it out. We wanted to get a district championship for our four seniors. The girls had a chip on their shoulder and definitely wanted it.”
“Everything starts with our defense,” Besselman said. “We knew we needed to pick it up in the second half and get some stops. Our defense starts our offense.”
Port Allen coach Kim Cox said her team played hard for three quarters.
“We just wore out towards the end of the third quarter,” Cox said. “Episcopal has a very good team. I’m proud of how the girls fought.”
Jewel Jones added 10 points and Sydney Summerville six for EHS. Summerville hit two key 3-pointers in the first half.
Lyric Nelson scored five of her team-high 10 points in the first quarter for PAHS. Alaysia Percy and Mya Lee scored seven and five points.
Port Allen tied the game at 12 on a Lee free throw with 3:54 remaining in the second quarter. EHS finished the half on a 6-0 run with Jones and Summerville hitting 3-pointers.
Port Allen pulled within three points at 22-19 on a Nelson free throw with 6:04 left in the third quarter. EHS finished the quarter on an 11-3 run with Jones scoring six points and Besselman five.
Episcopal defeated Northeast 57-20 in the semifinals with Besselman scoring 24 points, while Port Allen edged Dunham 26-21.