Sarah Housley helped lead Pelican to a Class C girls basketball state championship as a freshman in 2012.
In 2013, Housley and the Lady Jaguars watched their defense of that title end at the hands of a team led by an 8th-grader.
Saline’s Meosha Barnum poured in a game-high 25 points and KeAnna Rainwater added a double-double, as the fourth-seeded Lady Bobcats rolled past top-seeded Pelican, 55-31, on Friday in the Class C semifinals at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City.
“To be honest with you, she got a lot of good looks because of the older ones around her,” Pelican coach Cleve Craig said. “(Unique Qualls) and Rainwater got the basketball to her in some good positions, because we were having to help, because they were beating us off the dribble.”
Qualls managed just four points but had 11 of Saline’s 15 assists. She posted an 11-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, setting the table for Saline (27-5) to shoot 46.7 percent for the game.
“Earlier this year, we had a lot of illnesses and injuries, and Unique held the team together,” Saline coach Larry Williams said. “As she did (Friday), as she did throughout the season, she did a good job of getting her teammates easy baskets. She did a great job of finding her teammates and taking care of the ball.”
Qualls’ ability to break down the Pelican defense made things easier on Barnum, which in turn made things easier on Rainwater, who will play in her third state championship game in four years.
Rainwater made her name as a volume scorer on those teams. With Barnum converting inside and Madysen Watts knocking down three timely 3-pointers, Rainwater didn’t have to shoulder the load alone.
She still finished with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, as the Lady Bobcats earned a date with Dubach in next week’s Class C title game.
“At the beginning of the year, we hadn’t gotten together and played the way we needed to play,” Rainwater said. “When it came down to it, we’re way better as a team than we were at the beginning of the year.”
Much of that could be contributed to Rainwater, who has become a leader for the younger Saline players, especially Barnum, a 6-foot, 8th-grader who showed a soft touch around the basket and plenty of athleticism in the open court.
“I lean on her, and I ask her questions,” Barnum said. “I look at her as a role model. She tells me play hard, and do what you’re supposed to do.”