Lady Pios rally past Avoyelles to reach quarterfinals

CROWLEY – A cold shooting performance by Notre Dame’s Lady Pios in the first eight minutes gave the No. 13-seeded Avoyelles Lady Mustangs a glimmer of hope Thursday evening in the two teams’ Class 3A regional playoff contest at Crowley High.

The No. 4-seeded Lady Pios missed one 3-pointer after another in the opening frame, enabling the Lady Mustangs to streak out to a 12-6 advantage.

That lead, however, didn’t last much longer.

The Lady Pios readjusted their game plan in the second quarter and shifted into another gear, enabling them to overcome the shaky start and roar back for a 54-34 victory.

The victory sends the Lady Pios to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs where they will take on No. 5 Rayville on Monday. That game is slated for 6 p.m. at Midland High School.

“We settled for a lot of threes in the first quarter that we didn’t hit,” said Notre Dame coach Nolan Theriot. “In the second quarter, we scraped that and started attacking the basket. When we were able to kind of catch the lead, we kind of dictated what was going on.”

Avoyelles, despite the early lead, turned the ball over 19 times in the first half. Nine of those turnovers occurred in the second quarter when the Lady Mustangs were able to muster just two points.

“The turnovers really hurt us in the first half,” said Avoyelles coach Renee Bell, whose squad finished the season with a 19-14 record. “We relaxed in the second quarter and we let them cut to the goal when we pressed and they made the layups.”

Sam Lyons gave Notre Dame a spark in the second quarter. She pulled down countless rebounds and scored six of her 11 points in the frame to help give the Lady Pios a 19-14 lead.

“Sam was big on the boards and she had a number of key shots for us,” said Theriot. “She kind of took it on her shoulders when we weren’t hitting shots.”

Alex Miller and Hanna Esthay then kept the Lady Pios’ offense rolling in the third quarter.

Miller connected on a pair of long-range 3-pointers and Esthay drove the lane for three layups to help push the Lady Pios’ lead to 40-25.

At that point, the only thing in question was the final score.

“We settled down at the half and just put every missed layup and shot and every bad pass behind us,” said Theriot. “We came out in the third quarter, cranked it up and we really got going.”

Theriot elected to pull the ball out in the fourth quarter following two quick buckets by Esthay and Madalyn LeJeune and his team ate nearly five minutes off the clock. The Lady Pios picked up the pace in the final two minutes and outscored the Lady Mustangs 10-1.

LeJeune and Esthay paced the Lady Pios with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Lyons also hit double figures with 11 points and Miller finished with nine.

Also contributing in the victory was Gabbie Romero with six points and Elise LeBeouf with two.

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