Jasmine Thomas just kept taking it to the hole.
Time and time again, Thomas penetrated the lane. And more times than not, she hit big bucket after big bucket.
Thomas, North Caddo’s sophomore point guard, made 10 of 20 shots and scored a game-high 27 points to lead the top-seeded Lady Rebels (33-1) to a 57-36 win over No. 4 Pickering in the Class 2A semifinals at McNeese State’s Burton Coliseum Wednesday night.
“Jasmine controls the flow of the game offensively and defensively,” North Caddo co-head coach Rickey Evans said. “She’s the point guard, she brings up the ball, she distributes the ball and if we need her to, she scores the ball.”
“It wasn’t easy scoring, but I just felt like when I get in the lane it’s easier to score,” Thomas said.
North Caddo used its size and length on the perimeter, as well as its superior athleticism, to break open a close game in the second half. The Lady Rebels led by seven points at the half before outscoring Pickering (27-5) 10-2 in the third quarter and gradually pulling away for the victory.
“We were just having a hard time getting shots off because they’re so much bigger than us,” Pickering coach Vickie Sketoe said. “And their jumps, they were getting up. We didn’t penetrate the ball well. If you can’t shoot over ’em, you’re gonna have to penetrate and dish, and that wasn’t working for us.”
North Caddo grabbed 19 offensive boards, outrebounded Pickering 41-25 and forced the Lady Red Devils into 18 turnovers.
Senior guard Ledetriha “D.D.” Sheppard, a McNeese State signee playing on the floor she’ll call home for the next four years, finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four steals, while sophomore forward Sumer Williams added 10 points, a game-high 15 rebounds and five blocks.
Evans said he switched to a 1-2-2 matchup zone in the second half, focusing on keeping the ball out of the hands of Pickering senior point guard Sami Thomas and junior shooting guard Amy McKellar. The Lady Rebels harassed Thomas, a Northwestern State signee, into a 3-for-16 shooting performance and held her to only 11 points, nine below her season average.
Thomas was the only Pickering player to finish in double figures.
“Everything they did on defense, in my opinion, was to stop Sami,” Sketoe said. “And if nobody else can step up early on … that puts a lot of pressure on Sami. You can’t just depend on one player to win a ball game.”
“We knew that Pickering was a really good team,” Evans said. “We knew they were gonna come out and scrap and play through from the time the ball went up until the time the last horn went off. We just wanted to match their intensity and just play with ’em. We felt if we played good defense and matched their intensity, we’d have a chance to win at the end.”