Casey_Harris

Warren Easton's No. 3 Casey Harris prepares to attack the Benton defense in No. 881

ALEXANDRIA — Warren Easton last won a state championship in 2015.

But for Eagles coach Darius Mimms, it probably seems like much longer than that.

The injury bug has bitten his Eagles time and time again since his team hoisted that Class 4A state championship trophy three years ago. 

His daughter Dene, a Tulane signee, missed her sophomore season and this season with ACL injuries. Junior guard Casey Harris missed last season with the same injury.

"A few years ago, I thought (getting to the state tournament) was an annual thing for my program," Mimms said. "Then it was like every other week I was losing a key player. I told the girls to keep working and sooner or later something good was going to happen for us."

Something good is now just 32 minutes away for the Eagles.

No. 4 Easton plays No. 3 Neville on Friday in the Class 4A state championship game of the LHSAA girls basketball state tournament.

Tip-off at Rapides Coliseum is set for 8 p.m.

It'll be the third postseason meeting in as many years for the schools that have taken turns eliminating each other the past two seasons.

Easton eliminated Neville 72-45 in the first round two years ago.

Neville returned to the favor in 2017, winning 56-40 in the second round.

The stakes will be much higher this time around though.

Easton (24-8), riding a 17-game winning streak, hasn't lost a game since falling to Loranger in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Tournament in early January.

Neville is almost just as hot, winning 16 of its past 17 games.

The Tigers (24-8) are seeking their first state championship since 1959 and playing for it all for the first time since a runner-up finish in 1986. 

"They want us from last year and we want them from the year before," Neville coach Lorrie Guimbellot said."I think it's going to be a good game."

Both teams posted double-digit wins in the semifinals. Easton beat top seed Benton 64-54 and Neville defeated No. 2 South Lafourche 56-45.

Senior center Tyeisha Scott and senior forward Sha'Ouandra Carter scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, in Neville's win.

Easton was led in its win by junior forward Kiana Anderson, who scored 14 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. Anderson was one of four Eagles in double figures, along with Harris, Breanna Sutton and Cabrina Lewis.

"They are going to be tough," Guimbellot said. "They rely on the (3-pointer) a lot. The big girl on the inside (Anderson) we are going to have to try to keep her off the boards. It's the rubber match. We have relied on our defense all season long. Hopefully come Friday night we are going to bring the defense again."

The Eagles say they are ready for the challenge.

"It's real special," Anderson said. "This is a big moment for us."

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.