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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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Ellender pushes past Lady Tarpons in District Championship playoff

Ellender pushes past Lady Tarpons in District Championship playoff

When Ellender missed, they got the rebound and put it back up and in.

When South Lafourche turned over the ball, Ellender swarmed the floor in transition and got quick and easy points off the mistake.

When the Lady Tarpons made a run, the Lady Patriots had an answer – often a run bigger than the original.

When the game got close late, South Lafourche’s core players fouled out, leaving the team with little-to-no answers in the quest for victory.

Yup, that about sums up Thursday night’s District Championship Playoff game between the rival Lady Tarpons and Lady Patriots in a nutshell.

Ellender beat South Lafourche 75-56 in Thursday’s neutral site game at Central Lafourche High School that aimed to decide which rival would enter the playoffs with an extra power point and more advantageous seeding.

Lady Tarpons coach Rainie Terrebonne said the loss stings, but she’s not giving up on her team. She said the defeat isn’t overly big for South Lafourche in the grand scheme of things with the playoffs nearing.

“We’re not going to panic. It didn’t matter that much to us in the long run,” Terrebonne said. “We missed out on that power point, but it’s OK. Now, we’re going to get ourselves ready for the playoffs, which is that next step for us.”

It just wasn’t South Lafourche’s night on Thursday.

Ellender dominated the energy on the floor from the opening tip, using an early surge to take a 14-8 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.

Lady Patriots coach Kenneth Dixon said he talked to his team about a fast start during the entire bus ride to the gym.

In Monday night’s game between the teams, Ellender had a nightmare start, falling behind by 27 points before rallying to tie the game in the second half.

This time, they made it easier on themselves and led throughout.

“I told them, ‘Look, those South Lafourche girls will be ready to play, so if you’re not going to be, let me know now so I can sit you on the side,’” Dixon said. “We jumped out hot, and we did a nice job setting the tone early.”

The second quarter was even with Ellender going into halftime up 32-26.

The first few minutes of the second half were a nightmare for the Lady Tarpons.

South Lafourche turned over the ball twice in the first 30 seconds of the third quarter, which resulted in two easy baskets for Ellender – ballooning the lead to 10. From there, it never got much better, as the Lady Patriots expanded the advantage to 50-34 after the third quarter.

South Lafourche fought until the end, cutting Ellender’s lead to single digits in the fourth quarter on multiple occasions, including to six with a few minutes to play.

But right as the Lady Tarpons picked up steam, foul trouble served as the final nail in the team’s heart.

Four Lady Tarpons fouled out of the game – all starters. That enabled Ellender to shoot countless free throws in crunch time and made South Lafourche too short staffed to finish the comeback win.

“Foul trouble was a very big factor for us,” Terrebonne said. “We had a lot of people sitting down beside me that we could have used in the final minutes of the game.”

Senior guard Carolina Guilbeau led South Lafourche with 19 points. Senior Brinkley Callais and sophomore Traya Bruce each had double figures, as well.

The Lady Tarpons will return to the floor next week for an opening-round game in the Class 4A State Playoffs.

South Lafourche will be home, but the opponent, date or time is not yet known, because the brackets do not get released until Monday.

Terrebonne said she and her team can’t wait to rebound.

“We’re going to be ready to go,” she said. “The kids will be OK.”

Visit The Lafourche Gazette’s Facebook page to see who South Lafourche’s first-round opponent will be.