By Trent Friedel, exclusive to the Times
The Saint Mary’s Lady Tiger basketball took to the road last Thursday in hopes of continued hardwood play having ascended to Quarter final action. The Tigers made the trip to Abbeville to face number three seed Vermillion Catholic and gave the host Eagles all that could handle. Winner would advance to the semi-final game in Lake Charles for Marsh Madness. The 25 – 5 Eagles had a senior laden group and #4 Demouchet who carried her team. Maria Beinvenu won the tip, but the Tigers couldn’t score with the opening possession. Early action had both teams settling in and the Tigers played defense with a triangle and two.
Jensen Parker had the task of trying to slow #4 Demouchet. The Eagles led early, 5–2, but the Tigers knotted things up at five each with four minutes of first quarter clock remaining. Ragan Hale tried driving the lane to score only to be denied by the 6-foot LeBlanc. Bienvenu was fouled in the low post by LeBlanc and she hit one of two from the line and the score is now at 6 apiece. With less than a minute to go, Parker drained a three when left alone and had the Tigers leading 11–10. That grew to 13 – 10 in the Tigers favor when Bienvenu scores with 5.8 seconds left.
Demouchet has two fouls after one period of play and the Tigers hold the lead. The Lady Eagles were not to be denied, they scored from the free throw line when Bienvenu fouls #10 Frith. Frith got the lead back for the Eagles, 14 – 13. #11 Mallet penetrated the lane and scored off the glass, 16 – 13. Lipa went hard to the goal in transition but did not get a call to go her way and Coach Collins called a time out. Back to back mid-range jumpers by Carissa Kautz gave the lead back to the Tigers, 17 – 16. Vermillion Catholic tied it at 17 from the charity line.
Lipa was called for a charging foul that the Tiger fans are still scratching their heads over. Frith scored in the lane under the goal on the assist from Demouchet. A three ball by #11 Mallet put V.C. up by four 21 – 17. With 48 seconds before the half-time break and leading 25 – 17, Mallet was at the line for the second time and made both shots to give the Lady Eagles a 10-point lead 27 – 17.
Maggio got the ball ahead to Lipa to score as the buzzer sounds on the first half. Tigers trail 27 – 19. Turnovers in the first half proved costly for Saint Mary’s. Vermillion Catholic had the ball to start the second half, but Maggio is the early story. She scored at the free throw line and again in the lane and was fouled. She converted the “and one” for the three-point play and the Eagle lead was trimmed to six points, 29 – 23. The teams went back and forth and the tempo quickened.
Mallet scored for the Eagles on a long pass into the front court. Ragan Hale answered with a three coming out of a timeout then Bienvenu added two, 33 – 30. Parker added a three from the left side. Lady Eagles scored, then Tigers, and just like that the score stands at 37 each as the final period of play begins. Saint Mary’s had the ball to start the fourth and, brace yourself, it got get interesting.
Little SMH made some noise at #3 V.C. The score stayed tied at 37 through two possessions. Hale hit for two. Tigers up 39 – 37. Demouchet scored twice for Vermillion Catholic, Eagles up 41 – 39. Mallet at the line for V.C. hits both charity points, 43 – 39, Eagles on a little run. Time out Tigers with 4:20 of clock left. Hale, bam! Good from beyond the arc, 43 – 42. Lipa’s turn, bam! Good from three land and SMH retakes the lead 45 – 43. Parker committed a foul with 3:12 on the clock.
Eagles got nothing and Lady Tigers had the ball and the two-point lead 45 – 43 when V.C. called a time out. Lady Eagles went full court press resulting in a steal and score by Brailey #32 and the Eagles have tied it at 45 each with 2:37 left. A tie up occurred, and the call was jump ball with the possession arrow favoring Vermillion Catholic.
#11 Mallet hit a long-range jumper ruled a two-point ball, V.C. up 47 – 45. Saint Mary’s was unable to get buckets on the next trip down the court, 1:14 on the clock. Red hot Demouchet missed a layup but was fouled on the attempt and went to the line. Only one nets, 49 – 45 Eagles.
A minute 14 is an eternity in the game of basketball. Okay, continue. Saint Mary’s had the ball after the free throws and Bienvenu comes through with a score in the paint, 49 – 47 Lady Eagles up with a mere 51 seconds to count down. Vermillion Catholic turned to go down and score.
#4 Demouchet up the left side of the court and dished to LeBlanc who scored, 51 – 47. Lady Tigers got the ball past pressure and into the front court but can not score. K. Bienvenu fouled #15 Gallet and she sank both, 53 – 47.
The clock and hope were fading for Saint Mary’s as they just could not score when they need to most. #11 Mallet was fouled, and she went to the line with just 6.7 seconds showing on the counter. She was clutch from the line and the score was 55 – 47 as the Tiger season came to a halt.
A great game that the Tigers were in until the last seconds. It’s no consolation, but Saint Mary’s gave the Lady Eagles a contest and did not shy away from stiff senior competition. The Lady Eagles were nearly perfect at the free throw line.
The Lady Tigers will return all but one player next season and have post season experience that should pay dividends for Coach Collins next year.