As Cedar Creek took its team photo with the Division IV runner-up trophy Thursday afternoon at the Alario Center in New Orleans, a range of emotions could be seen on the Lady Cougars faces.
Pride. Sadness. Disappointment. Togetherness
The 60-42 loss to Southern Lab in the state title game wasn’t the final result they wanted, but the game culminated an impressive season that was capped by a historic run to the first state title game in program history since joining the LHSAA ranks in the late 1980s.
“I am very proud of these girls,” said Cedar Creek head coach Vandenlangenberg. “They competed hard. They played together. We have a special group of girls.”
Creek won 28 games to only three losses. And they did something that no other Lady Cougar basketball team had ever done. And they did it together, emptying their tank even down to the last seconds of the title game loss.
“The girls never quit,” said Vandenlangenberg. “They kept fighting and competing hard. When they give you their best, I don’t know what else a coach could ask. I told them after the game that I saw this team change: the chemistry and their effort. We stepped it up in the playoffs. We were playing our best basketball. We had a great run. We just ran into a better team.”
Despite being the No. 5 seed, Southern Lab (20-11) had played an unbelievably tough schedule. In fact, when the brackets were released Vandenlangenberg had said he felt that the Kittens could very well be the darkhorse of Division IV based on their talent.
And Southern Lab proved they were the best team in the classification, defeating both the No. 1 seed Ouachita Christian and the No. 2 seed in the Lady Cougars.
“To be in that game, we had to be really efficient offensively, because Southern Lab was going to score some points,” said Vandenlangenberg. “I thought defensively we were doing what we felt like we needed to do. We didn’t do anything different than what we did all year, they are just pretty good team. The game was a physical game. I’m okay with that but we just didn’t have the same level of physicality.”
Southern Lab started the game strong, hitting four three-pointers in the opening quarter to grab a 17-7 advantage. The Kittens eventually pushed it to 36-18 at the half and out to as many as 25 in the third quarter.
“When you are facing an athletic team that can get to the basket and on top of that they are hitting three’s, we kind of all know the end result,” said Vandenlangenberg.
Senior Sarah Adams ended her highly-decorated basketball career with 20 points, eight steals and five assists while fellow senior Millie Venters added four points. Junior Allie Furr added eight points and a team-high eight rebounds for Creek.
Southern Lab shot 54 percent (23-42) from the field, including hitting six three-pointers, and outrebounded the Lady Cougars 27-15.
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