LEROY — To say the North Vermilion Lady Patriots have a bad taste in their mouths from the way their season ended in the second round one year ago would be an understatement.
After upsetting No. 13 seed Amite in the first round 53-49, the No. 20 seeded Lady Patriots weren’t the least bit satisfied and set their sights on knocking off a top team in No. 4 Westlake, but a controversial call at the end of the game turned what appeared to be a contest headed for overtime into a 45-43 loss for North Vermilion.
“Yeah, we are still a little bitter about last year,” Lady Patriots head coach Phillip Freeman said. “To hit a three that tied the game with four seconds left, still the inbound, take a shot to try to win it and then be called for a foul on the rebound was a tough way to lose. We do feel like we have some unfinished business and that’s because we literally have a bitter taste in our mouths.”
The Lady Patriots will begin their quest to avenge what they believe to be an early exit from the postseason last year on Monday at 6:30 p.m. when they play host to No. 24 Independence in the Bi-District round of the Class 3A playoffs.
“From what I could see on film, Independence is very athletic and very aggressive on defense,” Freeman said. “They like to work the basketball inside and they are big compared to us. Then again everyone is big size wise compared to us, but I feel like we matchup well with them.”
Another thing Freeman noticed on film is Independence relies on its defense to create offense, so protecting the basketball is very important for the Lady Patriots.
“Independence definitely wants to run on offense and create havoc on defense,” Freeman said. “They like to get easy baskets in transition. They want to let their defense create turnovers that leads to points. We have to take care of the basketball against them. We have done a good job at times this year of protecting the ball, but we haven’t been consistent at taking care of the basketball.”
What Freeman doesn’t expect is for the Lady Patriots to be nervous or freeze up because of the magnitude of the games.
“We will be ready to play,” Freeman said. “The bigger the game, the better we play. I feel that we are more locked in when there is more at stake.”
Follow assistant sports editor Eric Narcisse on Twitter @tdanarcisse.