GIRLS: Cabrini 45, Bastrop 42
Shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range, Erin Temple staked Cabrini to a 20-5 first quarter lead and the Crescents withstood foul trouble and a noble Bastrop comeback effort for a 45-42 Class 4A first-round playoff victory Monday night at Sam's Place.
Cabrini (20-11), the No. 21 seed, never trailed as Temple accounted for the Crescents' first nine points on a trio of NBA-range trifectas.
"Those 3s put us in a hole," Bastrop coach Emma Brooks said. "We switched from a 2-3 to a 3-2 to put a little more pressure on 1 (Temple). The 3-2 was OK, but we still didn't get out far enough up front."
Temple's early marksmanship also forced Cabrini to adjust its gameplan.
"(Temple) was on fire," Cabrini coach Nancy Walsh said. "We had been working on our inside/outside game. We were really looking to attack a little more, but when a kid's on fire, you go to her."
Bastrop (17-7) managed only one field goal the entire first quarter as Michelle Hardin nailed a turnaround from the lane nearly six minutes into the contest, pulling the Lady Rams within 13-5.
With Cabrini's press keeping the Lady Rams at bay, the visitors closed out the half on a 7-0 run. Kyla Williams stroked a six-footer from the left baseline, Temple zapped her fourth 3-pointer of the quarter and Rakeel Spencer's steal led to Kelsey Pinera's transition bucket, widening the spread to 20-5.
Trailing 24-10 with 5:32 remaining before halftime, the Lady Rams began to grind their way back into the game as the Crescents' encountered foul trouble.
Williams and Spencer were both whistled for their third foul by halftime. Bastrop partially capitalized, converting 5-of-10 free throws on its next six possessions, before Deja Robinson's turnaround from the paint closed the gap to 24-17.
"My team came out and executed our gameplan almost to a T, but when we got into foul trouble, we had to move some things around," Walsh said. "We had to go to plan F."
Pinera made the back side of a two shot foul to halt the Lady Rams' 7-0 run, but Robinson slashed her way down low to shave the halftime deficit to 25-19.
Bastrop closed the margin down to three, 29-26, on a Jalijah Wheeler free throw with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter.
Cabrini responded with a 6-1 flurry, taking a 35-27 lead as Pinera found Williams underneath for an easy deuce. Bastrop would not allow another bucket for nearly seven minutes.
"We went to a man-to-man to see if we could continue to get back in the game," Brooks said.
Robinson's 10-foot jumper at the buzzer kept the Lady Rams within striking distance, 35-29, heading into the final eight minutes.
Hardin scored off of a spin move and Pinera sank one-of-two free throws to open the fourth quarter scoring.
Penetrating the lane, Robinson dished off to Hardin for a point-blank bucket, bringing the Lady Rams within 36-33 with 4:56 to play.
Two possessions later, Hardin made the front end of a two-shot foul, moving the score to 36-34.
Cydni Ward made the front end of a double bonus to up the Crescents' lead to 37-34, before the Lady Rams crept within one on Hardin's bucket from down low with 3:17 on the clock.
Maintaining their composure, the Crescents scored on their next two series. Meagan Leathem connected from the right baseline and Spencer navigated the lane for a layup, giving Cabrini some space, 41-36, at the 2:45 mark.
Bastrop's next three possessions, meanwhile, resulted in two turnovers and a pair of missed shots.
Cabrini's lead swelled to 42-36 as Spencer made the second end of a double bonus with 1:55 remaining.
Hardin's basket from up close sliced the margin to four, but the Lady Rams were running out of time with under a minute and a half to play.
Ward's layup off the bounce pass from Spencer, followed by a Spencer free throw, gave the Crescents a 45-38 advantage.
Refusing to go away, the Lady Rams clawed within 45-42 on Hardin's putback and Robinson's jumper from the left baseline with 26 seconds to play.
Cabrini, however, was able to run the clock down to 7.5 seconds, before the Lady Rams finally fouled Temple to stop the clock.
"We got ourselves into a hole early," Brooks said. "Honestly, I did not think we did enough to win the game."
One area that hurt the Lady Rams was free throw shooting, an area that Brooks has emphasized highly in practice of late. Despite shooting nearly twice as many free throws as the Crescents, the Lady Rams converted only 14-of-25 (56 percent) attempts. Cabrini struggled from the line as well, making just 5-of-13 (38.5 percent).
While Temple set the tone early, Spencer, a 5-9 freshman guard/forward, made things happen with her all-around play. Matching Temple's 12 points, Spencer distributed five assists and was a presence under the boards.
"(Spencer) did a good job for them," Brooks said. "She was all-conference last year as an eighth grader, so we knew she was going to be one of their players that we had to deal with."
Hardin and Robinson topped the Lady Rams' scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Brooks is looking forward to having a young backcourt, which began the season virtually void of varsity experience, back next season.
"Deja (Robinson) did a great job," Brooks said. "Tia Coleman's defensive skills are going to improve. I have no qualms with our younger kids."
For a rising Cabrini squad, which did not dress out a single senior (Katy Barnett, the Crescents' lone senior is out with an injury), the victory was a major step forward. Last year, the 29th-seeded Crescents exited the playoffs with a 66-43 road loss to Benton.
"For our young squad to come into an atmosphere like this and overcome the adversity, I was proud of them," Walsh said. "I remember saying in the locker room after the Benton game that it was going to help us this year. I'm super happy for this team. They did a great job."
Notes: Cabrini is an all-girls Catholic school (grades 8-12), located on Bayou St. John in New Orleans. … Cabrini's five starters presented coach Brooks with Mardi Gras beads in school colors (green and gold) during pregame introductions. … Cabrini started a junior (Ward), two sophomores (Temple and Williams), a freshman (Spencer) and an eighth-grader (Pinera). … Bastrop graduates three seniors — Hardin, Danielle Greely and Katajma Burrell. … Cabrini will play at home in the second round on Thursday night against No. 5 seed St. Thomas More, a 92-40 winner over Peabody.