Lady Bulldogs fall to John Curtis in Class 2A championship game
RUSTON - Going into Saturday's Class 2A girls state championship game against John Curtis, Iota coach Stan Baggett said his team had to shoot 45 percent or better or it would be a long night.
And it was.
The Lady Dogs were a dismal 5-for-24 in the first half and 14-for-49 on the night, resulting in a 55-42 loss to the Lady Patriots at Louisiana Tech's Thomas Assembly Center.
"We knew we had to come out and shoot well and it was rough early on," said Baggett, whose squad finished the season with a record of 33-4. "But I'm beyond proud of the season my girls had and I'm proud of the effort they gave today. They played their hearts out."
Unfortunately, it just wasn't Iota's night.
The Lady Dogs trailed from start to finish and were down by as many as 16 with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
And similar to the semifinals, the Lady Dogs responded by going on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 34-27 at the end of the period.
"The momentum was there for us, there's no doubt about it," said Baggett of the late run. "To their (John Curtis) credit, they hit some big shots in the fourth quarter that put the breaks on our run.
"We cut it to six once or twice, but we never put them in a position where they panicked."
Allison Baggett's runner in the lane to start the fourth quarter got the Lady Dogs within five (34-29) but that's as close as they would get. John Curtis connected on 11 of their 16 free throws in the final three minutes and outscored the Lady Dogs 21-15 to claim the championship for the second time in the last four years.
"We had a good game plan and I thought we executed it well," said John Curtis coach Barbara Farris. "We knew they were going to make shots and that they were going to get hot. We knew the game pretty much ran through Allison Baggett so we just wanted to make her touches hard fought and contested.
"They are a great team," said Baggett of Curtis. "We knew coming in that we were outmanned and we were the underdog."
Curtis had three players in double figures, including LSU signee Derreyal Youngblood. The 6-foot-4, 240 pound senior scored 10 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and blocked four shots en route to earning Most Valuable Player honors.
"She only had 10 points?" said Baggett. "Mission accomplished. I thought we did a great job on her. When they (the working media) named her MVP, I though she had 20 or better."
Youngblood, who is much bigger and taller than any Iota player, caused the Lady Dogs problems in the lane the entire game. She was whistled for just three fouls on the night, much to Baggett's dismay.
"The game was really physical and we had a tough time adjusting to that," said Baggett. "And they are bigger and stronger than we are so that a physical game definitely favors them."
Adalie Wriborg and McKenzie Armand took turns guarding Youngblood and both took hard shots from the John Curtis center that sent them to the floor without a whistle being blown.
"I took a couple shots to the jaw," said Wriborg. "I've played against some aggressive centers this year, but none were as big and strong as she was. "
Baggett wasn't thrilled as he felt that his daughter Allison should have earned consideration for the honor over Youngblood. Baggett scored a game-high 30 points and also had three rebounds, two assists and two steals in her final game.
Baggett was followed by seniors Anna Lege, Caroline Hebert and Adalie Wriborg. Lege scored five points and also had three rebounds and one blocked shot. Hebert scored three points and Wriborg had two.
Fellow senior Dominiqua Thomas did not score, but she recorded five rebounds and one steal. Freshman McKenzie Armand added two points to round out the scoring.
"I've been with this group off and on since they were in the fifth grade," said Baggett of his seniors. "I'm just glad they got to experience playing in the championship game. This is a special group of kids. I wish they could have walked out of here with a championship but it just wasn't our night."
John Curtis' Whitney Gathwright and Kolby Morgan had 14 and 11 points, respectively.