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CCHS Lady Eagles edge Highland Baptist 52-49

Central Catholic’s girls’ basketball team received a big challenge from District 7-1A foe Highland Baptist Friday night.
The Lady Eagles (8-17 overall, 2-2 in district) took advantage of a slow start by Highland Baptist, who didn’t make its first field goal until the 6:12 mark of the second quarter, and overcame rebounding trouble as well as struggles from the free-throw line in a hard-fought 52-49 victory.
Yani Johnson led the Lady Eagles with 29 points, and Jalaysia Bertrand added 12.
The Lady Eagles got out to a 7-1 lead in the first quarter thanks to 3-point shots from Bertrand and Lexi Landry.
Despite holding their opponent scoreless from the floor, Central Catholic led only 9-6 after the first quarter as Highland Baptist’s first eight points all came on free throws.
After Highland Baptist (11-8, 0-4 in district) tied the game at 10, Johnson’s 3-pointer put the Lady Eagles back in front 13-10 with 4:45 to play in the opening half. Johnson hit another basket on her next trip down the court, and Central Catholic led 18-12 following an 8-2 run.
Dusti Abshire’s put-back off a missed 3-point attempt closed the half for Highland Baptist, who trailed just 20-17 at intermission.
Highland Baptist came out strong to open the second half and grabbed a 26-24 lead with 5:30 left in the third.
Later, Johnson’s hook shot basket put the Lady Eagles back in front 32-30 with three minutes to play.
Inbounding with 9.9 seconds left in the period, Johnson got off a shot right before the buzzer to give the Lady Eagles a 37-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Central Catholic upped the lead to 39-31 after the first minute of the fourth quarter when injuries and foul trouble soon began to nip away at Highland Baptist. The Lady Eagles went up 41-31 with six minutes remaining after Highland Baptist’s Jasey Roy sustained an injury. Roy, who finished the game second in scoring for Highland Baptist with 12 points, had to be helped off the court and wouldn’t return.
Johnson made another big shot on the Lady Eagles’ next trip down the floor to put them up 43-31 for their largest lead of the game.
Rather than go down without a fight, Highland Baptist went back to work and cut its deficit to 43-37 after a layup from Blair Abshire. Abshire then made two foul shots to cut Highland Baptist’s deficit to 43-39 with 3:30 remaining.
Rebounding woes continued to plague the Lady Eagles and led to more foul shots and a smothering full-court press defense by Highland Baptist.
Bertrand hit a huge 3-pointer at the three-minute mark to push the Lady Eagles’ lead back to 46-40. She sank another key bucket on her next trip down the floor, a hook shot that made it 48-40 with 1:52 remaining.
Highland Baptist stayed within six, and with 1:17 remaining, Bri Sensley drained a 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game again at 49-46.
Johnson came up with a big block on defense to force a turnover and give the Lady Eagles the ball with just more than a minute to play.
But two missed foul shots proved costly, and Sensley’s put-back off a missed shot made it 50-48 with 48.9 remaining.
With her team down by three with 22.1 seconds left, Sensley made a foul shot to cut Highland Baptist’s deficit to two before the squad fouled Bertrand with 16.3 remaining. Bertrand sank her first shot to put the Lady Eagles ahead 52-49.
Highland Baptist had one last chance, and with 5.5 seconds remaining, Sensley made a desperation heave from three-point land that went far off line as the Lady Eagles held on.
“Our kids kept fighting,” Highland Baptist Coach Carol Sensley said. “We had one that went down with an injury and a couple that fouled out. Our young players stepped up big, and we just kept fighting and playing hard. That’s all I can tell you. Our effort was there. Bri did a good job handling the basketball and finding a way to score when we needed it.”
Sensley led the Bears with 20 points.
“We played bad and still won, so that’s a plus,” Central Catholic Assistant Coach Joe Jones said. “I think we may have taken (Highland Baptist) a little lightly, and that’s what happens when you take someone lightly. They get some momentum. We missed a lot of free throws, and we had a lot of fouls. They were shooting in the double bonus in the first quarter, so we had a lot of girls in foul trouble. Because of the fouls, it threw our rhythm off.”
Jones said he hopes Friday’s close win will serve as a lesson learned for the Lady Eagles.
“In the future, you hope you have a better game,” he said. “But we fought and fought until we came back and got the win. When you play bad, that’s all you can ask for. You’re not going to have every game go perfectly.”
Other scorers for Central Catholic were Sydney Williams with four points and Landry and Laurielle Bias, who each had three points.
Central Catholic will return to action Monday when it hosts Covenant Christian in nondistrict action.
Eagles rout Bears
Central Catholic routed Highland Baptist 96-45 in boys’ District 7-1A basketball action Friday in Morgan City.
Central Catholic led 22-14 after a quarter, 51-20 at halftime and 74-37 after three periods of play.
Brooks Thomas led four Eagles in double figures with 20 points. Other Central Catholic scorers were Taylor Blanchard, 18; Davidyione Bias, 11; D.J. Lewis, 10; Bentley Alcina and Tyler Smith, eight each; Demondrick Blackburn, six; Elijah Swan and Michael-Anthony Hill, five each; Kye Morgel, three; and Brett Morell, two.
Myles Liggans led Highland Baptist with 19 points, while Matthew Elrod also reached double figures with 10.
Thursday, Central Catholic defeated Teurlings Catholic 71-45 in Morgan City in nondistrict action.
While the game was tied at 14 after a period of play, Central Catholic outscored Teurlings in the next three quarters. The Eagles held an 18-10 scoring advantage in the second period for a 32-24 halftime lead before outscoring Teurlings 16-10 in the third period to extend its lead to 48-34. Central Catholic closed the contest with a 23-11 edge in the fourth period in scoring.
Thomas and Swan led four Eagles in double figures with 17 points apiece. Other Central Catholic scorers were Lewis, 14; Blanchard, 10; Smith, eight; Bias, three; and Hill, two.
Central Catholic (18-7 overall, 2-1 in district) will return to action Tuesday when it hosts Metairie Park Country Day in nondistrict action. The Cajuns, a Division III semifinalist a year ago, are ranked No. 2 in the latest Louisiana High School Athletic Association Division III power rankings.

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