Southwood made things tough on head coach Steve McDowell in Thursday night’s second-round Class 5A girls basketball playoff game against St. Amant.
The Lady Cowboys bolted to a 26-point lead after one quarter and cruised to a 72-26 victory, leaving McDowell struggling to pick out which part of Southwood’s complete game was most impressive.
“I thought we were real sharp,” said McDowell, whose team will face New Iberia on the road in Monday’s quarterfinals. “We passed the ball exteremely well. I think we played good defense. We shot the ball well.”
In short, top-seeded Southwood (30-1) did everything well, as it sewed up a 20th consecutive season with at least 30 wins.
Kourtney Pennywell led the Lady Cowboys with a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, Pennywell worked well off feeds from point guard Jessy Ellis early, as Southwood established its dominance inside.
“We had the size on them inside, and we did a good job of getting it inside,” McDowell said.
With the visiting Gators (22-11) collapsing on the Southwood post players, Chelsea Tieuel took advantage, knocking down a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers, as the Lady Cowboys broke to a 27-1 lead.
“Our goal was to jump out and try to do what we could and try to stop the inside game,” St. Amant coach Kristy Englade said. “Then the outside game was hitting. You start scratching your head, thinking, ‘OK, what can we do?’ If we go man, we’re outsized. If we go 1-2-2 zone, they’re going to bust us inside.”
Building such a big lead in a playoff game can dull a team’s intensity, but Southwood avoided falling into that trap.
St. Amant didn’t reach double figures until 1:46 remained in the third quarter. Even Katrina Ledoux’s run of eight points in 51 seconds did little to stymie the inevitable.
“To not let them come back on a run and to play hard and good defense throughout the whole game,” Ellis said of the toughest part of being in such command early in a postseason game. “(We could have been better) helping and not letting them penetrate as much as they did. We’ve got to step over and help.”
Pennywell, Tieuel (13) and Ellis (10) all reached double figures, but the Lady Cowboys bench provided some integral points as well.
Alexus Howard had eight of the 23 points produced by the Southwood reserves Thursday night. The second wave of Lady Cowboys saw plenty of action, something that helped Southwood’s starters a peaceful break.
“As you could see on the bench, we get very, very excited,” Pennywell said. “We jump up out of our seats. It’s so exciting to see how they’ve improved since the first day of practice when they got here. They were like running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I didn’t know what to do. I jumped out of my seat I don’t know how many times. It was very exciting to see.”