Lady Cougars stumble late in OCS grudge match

Leah Sutherland spots up for a shot during Saturday’s 46-41 loss to OCS at Claiborne Christian Academy gym. (Photo by Darrell James)

By Malcolm Butler

After tying for the co-district title during the regular season, Cedar Creek and Ouachita Christian played a third time Saturday with a power point on the line that could make a difference for the winner in the seeding for the upcoming LHSAA girls playoffs.

The Lady Cougars (21-6) led for the first 31 minutes of the game (minus a tie at 22-22 at the half), but the Lady Eagles (25-4) used a furious late fourth-quarter rally to steal away a 46-41 win to claim the power point.

After holding OCS to 26 points through three quarters, the Lady Cougars surrendered 20 in the final eight minutes.

“I am so proud of our girls,” said Creek head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg. “They competed. I think we ran out of gas. I didn’t sub much. We played the girls a lot of minutes. The last couple of minutes we just couldn’t get a rebound. We were just one or two plays away.”

Leading by nine with just under four minutes to play, the Lady Cougars struggled against the OCS full-court press and struggled to pull down a defensive rebound as the Lady Eagles took their first lead with under a minute to play and held on for the win.

“I thought we had great energy and effort tonight,” said Vandenlangenberg. “I think OCS hit some shots. They got some rebounds and some turnovers at the end hurt us. I think we forced a couple of tough shots and maybe didn’t get as good of a look.

Despite the loss, Vandenlangenberg said he was going to keep his team focused on what still lays ahead.

“I think we led the entire game until the last 46 seconds,” he said. “But I am proud of the girls. Instead of focusing on what we didn’t do, I want to focus on a lot of the good things we did. We are going to build upon this. At the end of the night, the thing that matters most is our first playoff game.

“We are going to focus our efforts on regrouping and winning a playoff game. We want to try to get back to the state tournament. We are going to stay positive. We are going to regroup. This team has had a great year and had fun and a one- or two-minute stretch isn’t going to change it.”

Senior guard Allie Furr led Creek with 13 points while Lizzie McAdams added 12 points. Elli Dickerson and Leah Sutherland each scored six while Lillian Soto added four points.

AD Melton scored 24 points for OCS while Ava West added 13.

Cedar Creek and the rest of the girls teams around the state will find out their playoff pairings this morning when they are released by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.