Iota Lady Dogs slip past Ville Platte in overtime

IOTA – The third time was nearly the charm for the Ville Platte Lady Bulldogs Monday evening.

After falling to Iota twice during the regular season, No. 8 seed Ville Platte overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and forced overtime in their Class 2A quarterfinal showdown at No. 1 Iota.

But that was as good as it got for Ville Platte, which was held to just two points in the extra period and suffered a third-straight defeat to the host Lady Dogs, 62-58.

The victory sends Iota to the semifinal round of the Class 2A playoffs in Lake Charles, where the Lady Dogs will take on Pickering. The date and time of that matchup was not released as of press time.

“We really gutted this one out,” said Iota coach Stan Baggett, whose team improved to 32-3 with the victory. “This was a tough game, but the kids played their hearts out and they just kept battling.

“We fell behind, but we kept telling the girls to keep their heads up because there was a lot of time left. Things weren’t really going our way, but they kept their composure and they found a way to win.”

Iota seemed to be in control of the game after taking a 34-24 lead at the break.

But a second-half charge by Ville Platte had the host Lady Dogs their heels late in the fourth quarter and led by as many as three (53-50) with a little over a minute to play.

The visitors still led 54-52 with 40 seconds remaining in regulation but Iota senior Caroline Hebert drove the lane, splitting two defenders, and dropped in a layup to tie the game.

On Ville Platte’s ensuing inbounds play, Hebert deflected a pass and Allison Baggett picked up the loose ball for an easy layup to give the hosts a 56-54 advantage with 16 seconds left.

“Caroline came up big right there at the end of regulation,” said Baggett. “She hit a big shot and then came up with a steal that really got us back in it.”

Ville Platte’s Breonno O’Connor drove the length of the court on the next possession and hit a layup with six seconds left to tie the game once again.

Iota had one last chance to win it in regulation, but Baggett missed a layup as time expired.

The extra period turned out to be a shootout from the free throw line.

The Lady Dogs, who struggled from the stripe, were able to connect on six of their nine attempts to seal the victory. Ville Platte got to the line twice, making just two of their four shots.

“We didn’t shoot real well from the free throw line, but we made them when we needed them,” said Baggett, whose team went 12-for-26 overall from the charity stripe.

Ville Platte finished with an 11-for 21 performance from the line.

Iota’s second-half rally was led by Baggett, who scored 10 points in the third and fourth quarters and three in overtime. She finished the night with a team-high 20 points.

Dominiqua Thomas also had a big second half. The senior small forward scored eight of her 10 points in the final two frames and also was a factor defensively with five steals, four blocks and 14 rebounds.

“We’re sitting at home right now if it weren’t for Dom,” said Baggett of Thomas, who was regulated to the bench for most of the first half due to two quick fouls in the opening period. “She put on a great show tonight. She hustled and got some many rebounds, so many tips and so many steals. She just played her heart out.”

Ville Platte’s charge was led by O’Connor, who dropped in a game-high 29 points before fouling out with two minutes to go in the overtime. The junior forward scored 14 points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth.

“What a game that kid had,” said Baggett of O’Connor. “She’s phenomenal. She put on a show in the second half and we just couldn’t stop her..”

In the second quarter, Ville Platte also made a run and took a one-point lead before Iota freshman forward McKenzie Armand took over.

Armand wreaked havoc on the visitors in the lane and scored seven straight points to help Iota claim a 10-point advantage at the half.

“McKenzie is our best finisher around the rim because she is so strong,” said Baggett of Armand, who also had seven rebounds. “She had a great second quarter. She had a great ballgame, she really did.”

Also contributing in the victory were Adalie Wriborg with seven points; Taylor Deville, six; Hebert, 5 and Anna Lege, four.

“Everybody just found a way to step up and contribute,” said Baggett. “That’s why we’re pretty good. You never know who is going to hurt you - somebody averaging six (points) a game may end up with 15 or 20. You just never know who that kid will be.”

O’Connor’s 29 points paced Ville Platte. Kim Frank followed with 11.

For Iota, the victory was especially sweet for the seniors - Baggett, Wriborg, Thomas, Hebert and Lege. That group has lost in the second round of the playoffs the last three years.

“This was a big win for our program,” said Baggett. “To beat a good team three times, that’s hard to do. And they came over here with nothing to lose and every bit of pressure was on us.

“For these seniors, they’ve had such bad luck their first three years in high school. And now, for them to get to finish it off and go to the semifinals, that’s just great for these kids.”

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