Iota Lady Dogs, Crowley Gents set for key league showdowns
IOTA – The second half of District 5-AA may have just begun, but tonight’s league showdown between the Iota Lady Bulldogs and the Oakdale Lady Warriors could possibly determine the league champion.
The Lady Dogs (22-5) enter the contest with an unblemished 7-0 league record while Oakdale (12-6) comes in at 6-1.
“You can almost look at this one as the district championship,” said Iota coach Stan Baggett. “If we win this one, we’ll be big time in the driver’s seat. If we lose, we’ll be in a tie with them at 7-1. So this is going to be a big game and I think we’ll have a big crowd out there to watch this one.”
Oakdale’s lone district loss was to Iota on Dec. 28. The Lady Dogs handed the Lady Warriors a 73-68 defeat in an overtime game that included six technical fouls and one ejection.
In fact, all four of the games between Iota and Oakdale over the last two years have been close.
During the 2009-2010 season, the two teams split their regular-season series. Iota took a 70-61 victory at home and then lost, 60-55, at Oakdale.
The two teams finished the regular season tied for the league title and played a special playoff game in Kinder to determine the outright champion. Iota slipped away with the crown with a 57-52 overtime victory in that contest.
“Just like last year, we are pretty evenly matched,” said Baggett. “All the games were close. They only lost one starter from last year and the other four have been playing together for a long time. It’s going to come down to us making some shots and not making mistakes.”
It will also come down to Iota being able to contain Oakdale’s Natanya Jones and Donisha Allison. The duo scored in double figures in each game last season and combined for 57 of the Lady Warriors’ 68 points in their overtime loss to the Lady Dogs in December.
“We’re going to have to do a good job of blocking out No. 10 (Allison) and keeping her off the glass,” said Baggett. “She’s a phenomenal athlete. She’s about 6-foot and she can just jump out of the gym and the little guard (Jones) can play also.”
Another key for Iota is staying out of foul trouble. In their last meeting, junior guard Allison Baggett picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter and sat out until midway through the fourth.
Baggett returned to the court at the 3:45 mark of the fourth quarter and scored 16 points during that period and the overtime.
“We are so thin now, we have to stay out of foul trouble,” said coach Baggett, who has just 10 players on his roster. “There’s no ifs, ans or buts about it. We’re going to have to keep them off the glass and do a great job of blocking out.”
A big plus for Baggett and his squad is the fact that they get possibly the biggest district game of the year at home, where a capacity crowd is almost a guarantee.
“To escape over there in overtime was a huge win,” said Baggett. “You have to love having this one at your house, without a doubt.”
Another big game on tap tonight will take place in Iowa between the Yellow Jackets and Crowley Gents.
Crowley and Iowa enter tonight’s contest with identical 14-7 records and are tied atop the league standings at 3-0.
“This is a huge for us,” said CHS coach Derrick Boone, whose squad is coming off a 41-37 victory over Northwest on Friday. “We’re going in with the mindset that it’s a must-win situation from here on out.
“Iowa’s on our heels and I know they’re going to come out ready to play. We have to be ready to go.”
Iowa was impressive in its first two league games, topping Church Point 84-53 before picking up a big road victory over Northwest, 63-47. However, the Yellow Jackets struggled Friday in beating Westlake, a team Crowley beat by 34 points, 88-83, at home.
“Iowa is a very talented team,” said Boone. “They play high tempo. They press and they fast break. The majority of their points are off missed baskets and getting down the floor in transition.
“If we can get them in a halfcourt game, I think we should be okay. We can’t let them get out in the lanes and get out running. If they begin to run the ball, it could be a long night.”
Last year, the Gents handled the Yellow Jackets at home and then went on the road to Iowa in the second half and lost.
“We have to be mentally prepared to play this game,” said Boone. “Everybody here is athletic but it is going to come down to which team is mentally prepared. We can’t afford to make stupid mistakes, especially on the road. We can’t play the way we played Friday (against Northwest) and expect to win.”
In other district action, Notre Dame will play host to Erath in what will be Senior Night for the Pioneers.
Midland will hit the road for a key District 7-B contest at Lacassine while Northside Chrisitan will play host to Johnson Bayou.