The (22-10, 8-2) West Monroe Lady Rebels were a minute away from winning a district title, but an improbable comeback fueled by two Lafaedria Green steals propelled (28-6, 9-1) Ouachita to a 55-52 victory at Ouachita Parish High School Friday night.
“This is definitely near the top of the list of some of the wins we’ve had,” Ouachita head coach Amber Obaze-Ford said. “It was so back-and-forth, and they’re such a good team. The community was so involved.”
The Lady Lions trailed the Lady Rebels, 52-48, with 1:11 remaining when Ouachita switched to a full-court press. Green forced a steal after the Lady Lions trapped West Monroe’s Amaya West and tossed the ball ahead to Cambria Hargrave for the breakaway layup. On the following possession, Lady Rebels guard Dezarae Stewart slipped and injured her leg, turning the ball over for another Hargrave fast-break layup that tied the game, 52-52 with 24.2 seconds remaining. Hargrave led the Lady Lions with 15 points in her final regular season contest in The Madhouse.
“That’s what I kept reminding (the seniors) about is that this your night,” Obaze-Ford said. “You choose how you end this night. You can come back here and cry, or you can finish this game out.”
And though fellow senior Green was limited to just five points in the victory, she made her presence felt on the defensive end with yet another steal in the final seconds. The Lady Lions forward intercepted a full-court pass before finding Amia Gibson for the game-winning and-one conversion with 16 seconds remaining.
“I’m proud of (Green) for keeping her head up because they did a great job doubling her all night,” Ouachita head coach Amber Obaze-Ford said. “I chewed on her and chewed on her all night, and then she came through with some huge steals.”
The Lady Lions had to rally after West Monroe outscored Ouachita, 15-7, in the third quarter. The Lady Rebels gained control and took a 37-36 lead at the end of the quarter. Stewart made a layup after tying the game on the previous possession with a 3-pointer. That was the Lady Rebels first lead since taking a 2-0 advantage after the opening tip.
Stewart led the Lady Rebels with 20 points, while Faith Robinson contributed with 11 points.
After hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, Ouachita had to settle for just one 3-pointer in the second half.
Unlike previous district contests, the Lady Lions did not come out of the gates slow. In fact, it was quite the contrary for Ouachita, who took a 16-8 lead over the Lady Rebels in the first quarter.
Five different Lady Lions scored within the first five minutes of the contest.
Ouachita’s 3-pointers were the story of the first half. The Lady Lions drained four 3-pointers in the half. West Monroe stayed within range by forcing turnovers with its full-court press and by taking advantage of Ouachita fouls at the free throw line.
West Monroe rallied from a 16-8 deficit with jumpers from Robinson and Chelsi George. West Monroe trailed 22-18 before Tia Perry hit the Lady Lions fourth 3-pointer of the half.
Back to back baskets from D’zyria Myles to close out the half allowed Ouachita to take a 29-22 lead at the break.
Ouachita and West Monroe now await their Class 5A seeding. Brackets will be released Monday.