Cedar Creek and Lincoln Prep are a step away from Hammond, with home games in the state quarterfinals upcoming after Tuesday night victories in the LHSAA girls basketball playoffs.
Ruston’s remarkable season almost continued, but homestanding Hahnville scored the last four points in the final minute to score a comeback 42-38 decision. The Lady Bearcats (22-8) led for three quarters in a defensive slugfest, but in the waning seconds, the Lady Tigers made two stops including a critical steal in the backcourt to prevail in the Class 5A second-rounder.
After dispatching visiting Vermilion Catholic 61-23 Tuesday night, the third-seeded Cedar Creek girls (19-3) will face No. 6 St. John on Thursday evening at 6 in the Brickhouse. St. John rolled over Catholic-Pointe Coupee 58-22 Tuesday night in the Division IV opening round.
The third time was the charm for the Lincoln Prep girls, who won 57-42 at Homer. The 12th-seeded Lady Panthers were swept in the regular season district series by the fifth-seeded Lady Pels, by 14 and 9 points, but rose up when it mattered most in the Class A regional round.
Lincoln Prep’s reward is playing at home in the quarterfinals Thursday against fourth-seeded North Central, who pasted visiting Plain Dealing 51-34 Tuesday night.
Also Tuesday, powerful Anacoco dispatched visiting Choudrant from the Class B postseason 63-38 down in Vernon Parish. Monday evening, Castor defended its homecourt, eliminating Simsboro’s girls 60-35 in a first-round matchup.
Ruston opened a 9-6 first quarter edge, then staked a 23-19 halftime advantage. Hahnville closed within 30-28 entering the final eight minutes, then snagged a 35-32 lead, but the Lady Bearcats fought back to a 38-all tie that stood for more than two minutes down the stretch. Inside the final 60 seconds, Hahnville’s fullcourt press and free throw accuracy made the difference.
“I am incredibly proud of the way we competed tonight and the heart we showed,” said third-year coach Meredith Graf. “Every single person came in ready and played their hardest. We left it all out on the floor and there’s nothing more you can ask as a coach.”
Jaliyah McWain led Ruston with 12 points, while Emerald Parker scored eight and Mariah Hintze scored seven.
The Lady Bearcats, who won a district championship for the first time in over a decade, return all five starters in 2021-22 and lose only two seniors.
“We learned and grew a great deal this season,” said Graf. “I know the experience gained individually and as a team will pay great dividends for us next year. I am proud to be a part of this historic program and to be a part of these young ladies’ lives.”
Cedar Creek exploded in the middle two quarters, outscoring Vermilion Catholic 34-8 sandwiched around halftime. A 17-6 second-quarter surge created a comfortable 29-13 lead at the break, then the Lady Cougars applied the knockout with a 17-2 third quarter outburst.
Sarah Adams and Elli Dickerson each scored 15 while Riley Spradlin added 13 for the winners, who can make a second straight state semifinal appearance with a Thursday night triumph.
BOYS PLAYOFFS: The LHSAA’s brackets released Monday afternoon send three parish teams on the road for opening round outings, while second-seeded Simsboro has a bye and No. 14 Choudrant gets a home game Friday at 6 against Converse.
Ruston’s Bearcats, seeded 19th, go to No. 14 East St. John in the 5A bracket.
Also seeded 19th, Lincoln Prep visits 14th-seeded East Iberville in Class A, with the survivor drawing third-seeded White Castle next week.
The Cedar Creek boys have the toughest draw, heading to New Orleans for a 6 p.m. Friday battle with Division IV’s No. 1 team, Crescent City.
Photo – Cedar Creek sign (LPJ photo); Ruston High by RHS