Lafaedria Green never had to be the best player on her team before.
On stacked Ouachita Lady Lion clubs in the past, Green was a wrecking ball in the paint, but she never assumed team leader because so many talented girls surrounded her, especially in the front court.
But 2020 would be different. Green was the top player on the Lady Lions, and also as her District 2-5A MVP suggests, she became the top player in her district. Green was going to have to shoulder the load.
“I was hoping she would, but you know, early into the season she didn’t carry it,” Ouachita head coach Amber Obaze-Ford said. “As the season went, she came into her own. But it took her some time to get used to that 3-on-1 pressure at times. The other guards really opened her up with how well they shot the 3-ball.”
Green averaged 11.5 points per game and 10.6 rebounds in Class 5A competition to earn The Ouachita Citizen’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year Award.
And there were times this season Green left no doubt of how significant her impact was on the floor. Perhaps no other time illustrated this better than Ouachita’s battle with West Monroe with the District 2-5A Championship on the line.
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.
“It’s crazy, but I knew I was going to get those steals,” Green said. “I did it in practice all the time. Every time we drew up that defensive play, I always get those steals.”
Though 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.
“She did always get those steals at practice, but in that game, we were at a point where something good had to happen,” Obaze-Ford said. “She knew she had to come through. She didn’t have a full all around game that night, but like all good players do, she found a way to impact the game.”
Green might’ve been an anchor for the Lady Lions underneath, but she was also a vital piece for a breakthrough season. The previous three years of Green’s high school career ended in the quarterfinals. But in 2020, Green and the Lady Lions found a way to get over that hump, as Green led the Lady Lions with 24 points in a victory against Northshore in the quarterfinals. That sent the Lady Lions to the state tournament for the first time since 2012.
“It was a curse that Ouachita had at that point,” Green said. “It was a major deal for me because I’ve been on varsity for three years.”
After moving past Ponchatoula, in what Green called a heated back-and-forth game, the Lady Lions played in the Class 5A State Championship against Benton. Though the Lady Lions fell in a 62-48 defeat, Green and her teammates will always cherish the opportunity they had to play for a state title.
“Before the game (Obaze-Ford) told me that win or lose, she was going to be proud,” Green said. “It her first time to be there as a coach with Ouachita. And it was the first time Ouachita had been down there in a long time. I’m proud of that.”