Playing in front of a raucous, standing room only crowd of mostly North Caddo fans, the Lady Rebels exploded in the first half and coasted by Red River 69-44 on Monday night in the second round of the LHSAA Class 2A state playoffs.
Meeting for the third time this season, the Lady Bulldogs made several runs at the Lady Rebs (30-1), but couldn’t overcome a 23-point first-half deficit, after finishing second to the District 1-2A champs.
“It was definitely more of a defensive game than the first two times we played them,” North Caddo co-head coach Angela Channell said. “They were more aggressive defensively and double-teamed (Ledetriha) Sheppard more this time. We’re happy to move on.”
The North Caddo victory, combined with a Redemptorist win, gives the Lady Rebels a third consecutive home game. That will be played on Thursday night at 6:30 with a berth in Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles on the line.
“We really wanted to advance and we will prepare hard for what is coming next,” said Sheppard, a McNeese-signee. “It wasn’t difficult preparing for tonight, although they threw some different things at us defensively.”
Red River coach Jamie Antilley was disappointed that her team was forced to face the No. 1 seeded Lady Rebels in the second round.
“Our girls played their hearts out – we fought hard,” she said. “But we have a young team, just one senior, so we should be solid coming back next season.”
Red River (16-13) got a solid game from Bradford, who finished with 12 points, mostly on tough buckets in the paint, while freshman speedster Lakeya Lewis added 10.
North Caddo’s strap-it-on defensive pressure forced a half-dozen Lady Bulldog turnovers in the game’s opening three minutes, as the Lady Rebs bolted to a 17-2 advantage. Red River’s Aliyiah Bradford stopped the plunder with her team’s first field goal of the game with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. That seemed to settle the visitors a bit, as they reeled off an 8-2 run of their own to end the frame.
But Sheppard, who scored 15 first-half points on her way to a game-high 23 points, and Jasmine Thomas, were too much to handle. Thomas, who finished with 21 points, took over late in the first half when the Lady Bulldogs had pulled within 29-19. The sophomore scored the final 7 points of the half in a 13-0 North Caddo run to that put the hosts in front 42-19 at the break.
Red River won the third quarter 15-8 when Kim Burton and Taleisha Wilson nailed 3-pointers. But the Lady Rebels reeled off a 13-4 run to open the final frame to seal the game.
North Caddo co-head coach Rickey Evans liked what he saw from his defense.
“We prepare for everyone with our defense,” Evans said. “We feel like if we can get turnovers and get fast breaks, we can play with anyone.”