Heading into what ultimately was a 39-26 opening round playoff victory, West Monroe head coach John Green feared a slow start was in order after spending most of the week away from his club due to the winter storm.
His fears were realized four minutes into an opening round playoff contest against No. 23 Denham Springs, as the Lady Rebels found themselves down 5-0 early on. Green called timeout, and after a 30-second heart-to-heart, his team woke up.
Green said he felt all of his starts lately have been that way, even though the Lady Rebels have been victorious lately.
"We had a voluntary workout on Friday because the roads were a little sketchy," Green said. "But the main roads had a lot of people traveling on. We had a couple girls come up here, and (the practice) was bad. It was really bad. I challenged them Saturday to come back in here and they were lights out. I felt a lot better on how we'd end up."
West Monroe rattled off an 18-4 run over the next eight minutes of game time. That included back-to-back 3-pointers by KayKay Russel and Pashonnay Johnson to start the second quarter. West Monroe’s lead blossomed to an 18-9 advantage, but Denham Springs was far from out of the fight. The Yellowjackets made it a three-point contest thanks to Kiana Lee’s banked 3-pointer.
A relentless attack from Johnson in the paint, combined with the full-court pressure that generated some fast-break opportunities, allowed West Monroe to take a 22-16 lead into the break.
Johnson led the Lady Rebels with 18 points in the victory.
The second half was yet again another strong point for West Monroe.
The Lady Rebels’ lead ballooned to double digits in the third quarter. Shamiya Butler imposed her will early on in the period with back-to-back buckets in the paint, and the Lady Rebels clamped down on the defensive end. West Monroe allowed just three points in the entire quarter, as West Monroe led 33-19 after the third.
Because No. 26 Terrebonne upset No. 7 Zachary, 59-53, in the opening round, West Monroe will travel to face Terrebonne in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.