Creek girls make history; one win away from state title

 

These Lady Cougars made history.

Even though they still have one game left – one BIG game – the 2021-22 Cedar Creek Lady Cougars have already made history.

Second seed Cedar Creek (28-2) led from start to finish in defeating 6th-seeded St. Martin’s Episcopal (21-6) by a score of 52-35 Tuesday afternoon at the Alario Center in Westwego, Louisiana.

When the Lady Cougars take the floor Thursday at 2:30 p.m. to face 5th-seeded Southern Lab in the title game, it will mark the first time since the school joined the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) ranks that the girls basketball team has played for the state title.

The historical accomplishment isn’t lost on the players.

“It means so much to me and the rest of the girls,” said Allie Furr, who scored 13 points in the win on 6-of-9 shooting. “For the past two years we have lost in the semifinal game, but we knew this year was going to be different. We have worked so hard from the beginning of the season to now to be where we are at. We have such great chemistry and play together so well that we knew we had the potential to go all the way.”

“This was our third consecutive year to make it to the state tournament which is an outstanding achievement on its own,” said Sarah Adams. “But we are the first team to make it to the Finals. The opportunity to make these memories that will last a lifetime is truly a blessing.”

Adams, Furr and the rest of the Lady Cougars led from start to finish. Despite a slow down approach by St. Martin’s Episcopal, Creek was able to get an early lead, maintain it, eventually push it to double figures and cruise to the semifinal victory.

Creek led 11-6 after the first quarter and 23-14 at halftime.

“It was a good little game,” said Cedar Creek head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg. “It was a weird game. Their tempo was not like our tempo. They like to slow it down and slow it down and dribble dribble, dribble, dribble. We were okay with it because we got the lead early. We also got into a little foul trouble early. We didn’t want to try to do anything crazy. We just wanted to play our game.”

The third quarter saw the Lady Cougars outscore St. Martin’s Episcopal 16-10 and Cedar Creek eventually pushed its lead out to as many as 20 points late in the game.

“We played at their tempo for most of the game,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We had two little spurts that really helped us. In the third quarter we kind of broke it open a little. We had a couple of steals and some run outs for easy buckets. The girls started to really relax. You could almost see the girls say, ‘Okay, we can do this.’”

And do it they did.

As she has done all year long, Adams spearheaded the Creek attack, finishing with a triple double with 18 points, 11 assists and 10 steals while adding five rebounds for good measure.

Furr’s 13 points and Lizzie McAdams 10 points provided Cedar Creek some balanced scoring as the Lady Cougars shot 48 percent (23-of-48) from the field. Defensively, Creek forced 17 turnovers and held St. Martin’s Episcopal to only 28 percent (13-of-48) shooting.

“Anytime we can get multiple girls in double digits that’s a good thing,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We played good defense and rebounded. St. Martin’s (Episcopal) wants to hold people in the 30s. I was concerned about our shooting going into the game because it’s a bigger venue, but our girls shot the ball fairly well today.”

Now the Lady Cougars turn their attention to the title game against a Southern Lab team that defeated No. 1 seed and defending state champion Ouachita Christian 51-42 in the day’s first semifinal.

“We’re so excited,” said Adams. “Obviously we want to win and that is the goal. But now that our nerves are out of the way after our first game down here we can really let loose and get after it.”

Vandenlangenberg said his team will need to do another good job on the defensive end and on the boards in order to bring home the school’s first state LHSAA title in basketball.

“Southern Lab is young,” he said. “I’ve been told they start three ninth graders and an eighth grader. They are a young but an athletic team. We have to make Southern Lab one dimensional. We have to make them 3-point shooters.

“They like to drive gaps. They attack the basket and get to the free throw line. They really rebound it well too. We have to control the paint and make them more of a perimeter shooting team.”.