Lady Dogs top Church Point in playoff opener

Iota’s Madison Smith goes up for a shot over a defender Thursday during the Lady Dogs’ 68-48 Class 3A bidistrict playoff victory over Church Point.

 IOTA - The Church Point Lady Bears kept it close for a while, but a 3-point barrage by No. 9 seed Iota at the end of the first half gave the Lady Dogs all the breathing room they needed in their Class 3A playoff game Thursday.
Brittany Johnson connected on three straight 3-pointers in the final minutes of the second quarter, giving the Lady Dogs a 34-21 advantage at the half and propelling the hosts to a 68-48 victory over the No. 25-seeded Lady Bears.
The victory sends Iota (22-9) to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs where they will play host to No. 9 Rayville on Monday at 6 p.m.
Church Point finished the season with a record of 13-12.
“Anytime you play a team that can shoot from that far behind the 3-point line, it’s tough,” said Church Point coach Tim Jones. “You teach them (players) early on that you step up and play defense at the 3-point line. When those girls (Lady Dogs) are hitting those shots long range like that, we kind of second guessed ourselves; should I step out or should I stay back? We got complacent and they took advantage of that.”
The Lady Dogs connected on nine 3-pointers on the night, five by Johnson in the first half. She drained one early in the first quarter and connected on four shots from beyond the arch in the second to finish with a game-high 20 points.
“Brittany really gave us a spark right there at the end of the half because, before that, we really weren’t shooting that well,” said Iota coach Meghann LeJeune, whose team went 9-for-23 from 3-point range. “We were sure jacking it up early on, but they just weren’t going in. We had been shooting so well recently and the fact that they weren’t falling early, we were just shooting and praying.”
Prior to Johnson’s hot-streak, the Lady Bears had kept up with the Lady Dogs and actually trailed just 21-19 with just over two minutes remaining in the half. That was sparked by  a tremendous defensive effort that resulted in a season-high 23 turnovers by Iota.
“I have been stressing defense since day one because if you can’t play defense, you can’t play offense,” said Jones. “I thought we did a good job on defense, but we just couldn’t convert.”
Some of Iota’s turnovers could be attributed to some new offensive schemes  the Lady Dogs had recently put in, said Lejeune.
“They (Church Point) changed the defense just slightly and I had made a substitution with some of the girls who aren’t as comfortable running some of the new offense and it just kind of went from there,” she said. “We just turned the ball over to much. And it was just silly mistakes.”
The Lady Dogs began the second half with a bang from outside when Jillian Boone and Mallory Faul each knocked down 3-pointers in the first minute of the third quarter. Whitney Landry then added another 3-pointer later in the frame and had a rebound and putback as Iota jumped out to a 49-34 lead.
Raven Alexander did her best to keep the Lady Bears in the game by scoring six of her team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter but the deficit was too large to overcome.
“We had a pretty good season,” said Jones. “From where we started from over the summer to where we are now,  we’ve made tremendous progress. “They have made tremendous strides and I’m really proud of all of them.”
Shondrika Boast scored nine points for the Lady Bears while Bria Frank and Angel Red  each pitched in six. Talia Jones followed with four points and Alexis Roy had two. Charity Bias and Kenisha Dartez each finished with two points.
Iota was led by Johnson’s 20-point performance. Landry and Boone each followed with 11 points; Madison Smith pitched in seven; Taylor DeVille and Cambri St. Andre each added six; Mallory Faul had five and Becca Fantroy rounded out the Lady Dogs’ scoring with two.
“This was a big win for us,” said LeJeune. “The girls are excited and I think we will come in Monday against Rayville and be ready to go.” 

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