Sterlington 47, Carroll 39
Jayla Stewart scored eight of Sterlington's 11 overtime points as the Lady Panthers started District 2-3A play on the right foot by upsetting Carroll 47-39 Tuesday night.
Carroll went ahead 36-34 with six seconds remaining in regulation when Love´ Jones made the front end of a two-shot foul.
"(Point guard) Michaela Waters asked me if I wanted her to pull up at half court if they made the second free throw," Sterlington coach Caroline Oliphant said. "I was actually hoping they would make the second free throw so the clock wouldn't start on the rebound, and Jayla could take it out quick (on the inbounds pass)."
Oliphant's second option — provided the free throw was missed — called for Waters to shoot a layup.
"I told Michaela I wanted her to drive for a layup unless there was a wall there. If there was a wall there, arch it up. If not, lay it up," Oliphant said.
When the second free throw caromed off the rim, Bri Logan tracked down the long rebound near the 3-point line and dished the ball to Waters, who kissed the game-tying layup off the glass ahead of the buzzer.
"I can't say enough about Michaela trusting me at the end of the game," Oliphant said. "We were beat, and she takes the ball, drives, lays it up, and the horn goes off — overtime."
Sterlington was in control of the extra session from the opening jump. Kaela Mullins tapped the ball to Waters, who passed to Stewart for the go-ahead layup.
Stewart more than atoned for missing a layup which would have given the Lady Panthers the lead with 19 seconds remaining in regulation.
"That's the first time in awhile we have executed a play the way it was drawn up," Oliphant said. "The shot just didn't fall. I could tell by the look on her face that it really bothered her."
Sterlington went on to outscore the Lady Bulldogs 11-3 in extra time.
After making the layup to put the Panthers up 38-36 in OT, Stewart added two more buckets and a pair of free throws to finish with a season-high 13 points.
"When Michaela made the layup to put it into overtime, Jayla went into another gear," Oliphant said.
Kaela Mullins scored five points, including a 3-pointer, as the Lady Panthers jumped in front 11-5 at the end of the first frame.
Waters' 3-pointer helped Sterlington push its halftime lead to 19-13.
Carroll whittled the deficit to 27-24 at the end of three. Knocking down a pair of treys, Ashleigh Davis was responsible for all eight of Sterlington's third quarter points.
Sparked by three buckets from Bran'Terrica Johnson, Carroll outscored the Lady Panthers 12-9 in the fourth quarter to send the game into regulation squared at 36.
Mullins went to the bench early in the fourth quarter with four fouls before being reinserted into the lineup late in regulation.
"Kaela could have sat on the bench and pouted about it, but she acted like a senior and put the team first," Oliphant said. "Then she went back in the game and got it done. She had some big rebounds and made a big shot in overtime."
Sterlington (13-9) improved to 4-7 in games decided by 10 points or less.
"We've been in this situation before," Oliphant said. "We've lost nine ballgames, and seven were by 10 points or less. They've been there. We've messed it up at the end of games, but we learned from it, and it's paying off. I don't know how many times this year we haven't fouled at the end of games when we were supposed to, but we got it right (Tuesday night). This is why I scheduled those tough games early in the year."
Waters joined Stewart in double digits with 14 points for the Lady Panthers (13-9). Davis and Mullins both put nine on the book with Logan and Jayme Broadway contributing single points. Stewart and Mullins both pulled down seven rebounds.
Johnson and Young shared scoring honors for Carroll (11-12) with 12 apiece, Akyra Briggs added 11 with deuces from Kayla Wilson and Aalyrah Wheeler.
One game doesn't make a season, but the Lady Panthers clearly took a step in the right direction Tuesday night at the Panthers' Den.
"This was a huge win for us," Oliphant said. "I really believe this district is wide open. I think anybody can win on a given night. I've been telling our girls we have as good of a chance as anybody. But coming off of a 2-win district season, you can't believe it until you see it.
"It's not going to be easy. District is going to be long, and it's going to be tough every night.
Sterlington's next two are on the road with stops at Wossman on Friday and Union Parish on Tuesday. Both games get underway at 6 p.m. as part of a girls/boys twinbill.
— — —
Carroll .......... 6 7 11 12 .. 3—39
Sterlington .. 11 8.. 8 .. 9 11— 47
CARROLL (11-12, 0-1) — Bran'Terrica Johnson 12, Love´ Young 12, Akyra Briggs 11, Kayla Wilson 2, Aalyrah Wheeler 2.
STERLINGTON (13-9, 1-0) — Michaela Waters 14, Jayla Stewart 13, Ashleigh Davis 9, Kaela Mullins 9, Bri Logan 1, Jayme Broadway 1.
Three-point goals — Carroll 0, Sterlington 5 (Waters 2, Davis 2, Mullins 1). Total fouls — Carroll 21, Sterlington 16. Free throw shooting — Carroll 7-11, Sterlington 7-18. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.