VC seniors Ainsley Mallet (left) and Emma LeBlanc cry after the loss to LCA on Friday.
VC's Jay Demouchet goes up for a shot in the paint,
VC's Emma LeBlanc (left) and Kelli Frith were no match for LCA's Bre Porter, who stands 6-3. She finished with 20 rebounds against VC.
LCA too much for VC in Division IV finals
ALEXANDRIA – The Vermilion Catholic Lady Eagles live on high expectations that routinely place them in championship contention.
They were in position again on Friday, meeting district foe Lafayette Christian in the Division IV LHSAA girls basketball title at Rapides Parish Coliseum.
And VC, which won state crowns in 1999 and 2013 under coach Kim Guidry, featured an experienced squad with four seniors who had been to three previous Final Four events.
But poor shooting by the Lady Eagles, combined with a powerful virtuoso effort from LCA’s Bre’ Porter, enabled the Lady Knights to score a 48-33 victory for a third straight state title.
“We played with heart, and we played hard,” said Guidry, whose team finished with a 27-6 record. “You can’t shoot 23 percent and expect to win against a team like this. LCA has the total package.”
VC hit 12-of-53 shots – 22.6 percent – including 2-of-19 beyond the 3-point arc. The Eagles did manage 7-of-10 at the free throw line.
Ainsley Mallet totaled 12 points to lead Vermilion Catholic,
“It was a great feeling at the beginning to be playing in the title game, and we fought until the end,” said Mallet, who bid farewell along with other seniors Jay Demouchet, Anne-Catherine Gallet and Emma LeBlanc.
VC was primed for a
championship effort, featuring a sticky, shifting defense that gave LCA problems at first. Mallet hit a pair of short shots and LeBlanc scored over Taylor for an 11-10 edge after the opening period.
But that 11-10 was the last VC lead of the contest.
Tamara Johnson, whose 18 points led all scorers, opened the second quarter with a drive of the baseline for 12-11. A pair of Johnson free throws upped it to 14-11 before a steal and layup by Demoucet crept the Eagles within 14-13.
But then Autumn Chassion banked in a 3-point bomb from left of the key, as if to remind her foes that resistance was futile.
With a 17-5 quarter, the Knights built a commanding 27-16 lead.
“We tried three or four different things,” Guidry said. “But then they started just lobbing the ball over us. They went with the big girl.”
That would be Porter, the game’s Most Outstanding Player after she grabbed a demoralizing 20 rebounds – 10 offense, 10 defense – and tallied 15 points. She was virtually unstoppable, especially in the third period when she cleared 9 caroms and chipped in 6 points.
In one sequence, she had four rebounds to keep things alive until Johnson scored on a follow-up.
“In my four years of high school basketball, I’ve never had a game like that,” Porter said. “As the game wore on, I felt I should step up, and I did.”
Somehow, VC was outscored just 8-7 in the third quarter despite Porter’s heroics, a tribute to tenacity. The Eagles lost 58-28 to LCA in the regular season but chopped that margin in half on Friday.
Porter is one of only two seniors on LCA’s roster, marking the Knights as the team to watch in 2020.
“We have started a dynasty in the Acadiana area and the state,” Chassion said. “We’ll have the same game plan next year.”
“It’s been an unbelievable experience, to come as far as this program has come,” said LCA coach Errol Rogers, who added, “We’ll play anybody, any time, anywhere.”
Guidry, meanwhile, wouldn’t swap her roster.
“I told them they had already won, just by making it to the championship game again,” Guidry said. “Then, once you realize that, go play. It doesn’t matter if we have something to add to the trophy case.
“These four seniors are a special group. People don’t get to see the life lessons they’ve learned, things that they’ll take with them. I can’t say how much they mean to us.
“I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”