Capturing the District 9-3A basketball tournament with a 56-33 win over host St. James on Thursday meant more than a simple league title for the Donaldsonville Lady Tigers program.
“It feels good because I want to say the last time Donaldsonville High School a district in any sport might have been in 1999 or something like that. It feels good to bring one home,” said Donaldsonville coach Shawancy Joseph said.
Donaldsonville closed out the regular season at 15-10 and currently sits No. 15 in the power points ranking with the Lady Tigers in line to host a first-round playoff game when the pairings are announced Sunday. St. James, currently with the No. 24 power ranking, dropped to 12-14.
After scoring only three points in the second quarter, St. James scored the first five points of the third period on a follow-up basket by Raveon Fletcher and three Chaylyn Saul free throws to narrow the Lady Wildcats’ deficit to three points at 25-22.
Slightly more than one minute later, Donaldsonville had a 34-23 lead after two baskets by Quinntryce Bell, an inside basket by L’Nysia Johnson and a 3-pointer by Tia Richard off an inbounds play.
Along with a few shots falling that hadn’t earlier, the Lady Tigers stepped up their defense an inside game.
After SJH’s five points to open the third quarter, the Lady Wildcats managed only a single free throw the rest of the period to trail 39-23 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to try to get it to our big girls because we knew Raveon Fletcher was already in foul trouble. What we wanted to do is just run our offense and just go through our inside. Our inside was Quinntryce Bell and Julair Johnson. It was either-or that would get the ball,” explained Joseph.
“Donaldsonville played great. They played with a lot of energy,” said St. James coach Damon Robinson. “We played hard but we didn’t get the job done. Everybody says defense wins championships but you have to put the ball in the basket.”
The Lady Tiger put the ball in the basket with their inside game. Bell scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter. Janae Southall was the only other double-figure scorer for Donaldsonville with 10 points.
Donaldsonville’s biggest lead of the game was 26 points at 56-30 on a 3-pointer by Richard with less than two minutes left in the game.
“That was part of our game plan to take the ball out of Layonna Sterling’s hand and everybody just play solid defense. We had two of our top defenders, L’Nysia Johnson and Shauncey Joseph rotate in and out on Sterling and they did their job. We tried to force her to her right because we know she loves to go left. We then had to make some adjustments down at the bottom with our bigs and other girls on the block. At the end of the day, everybody did their job,” said Shawancy Joseph.
“We were in foul trouble and our shots really weren’t going down. You have those nights sometimes,” Robinson said.
Sterling and Saul each had 11 points for St. James while Fletcher finished with nine.
Neither team shot well in the first half.
Donaldsonville managed to get inside early in the game but had little to show for it by missing several easy baskets. On one trip down the court late in the first quarter, the Lady Tigers managed six offensive rebounds but came up empty when they ultimately turned the ball over.
The Lady Tigers’ biggest lead of the opening quarter was five points before St. James outscored Donaldsonville 8-2 to close out the period to take a 14-13 lead.
Sterling had a three-point play, Saul a 3-pointer and Sterling later added a layup to spark the Lady Wildcats.
St. James only scored three points in the second quarter with the eight-point margin of 25-17 at halftime representing Donaldsonville’s larges lead of the first half.
“That first half was not what we had planned,” said Shawancy Joseph. “We didn’t do anything that we practiced for the last two days. We challenged our girls at halftime to go out and execute everything we had practiced and they went out and did that.
“I think we got down because we got in foul trouble the first half and it took some of our key defensive players and put them on the bench so we had to go back with some people that’s a defensive liability at times. I commend my girls because they got it together, they came back and did what they had to do in the third quarter and the whole second half.”