After the first round of the Class 5A girls basketball playoffs, the secret is out.
West Monroe played without point guard My’Kyiaya Bates, and head coach John Green announced after the game that she is out for the year with a torn ACL.
It could not have come at a worse time, but the No. 2 Lady Rebels sent out another message with Thursday night’s 56-21 win over No. 31 Ruston — they are still on a mission in the postseason.
“To tell you the truth, we had rough week last week. A lot of things didn’t go our way, and our girls had a great preparation week,” Green said. “Our girls were bound and determined tonight to win for her (Bates), and they went out and played one of their better games this year.”
The 35-point win is the second most lopsided for West Monroe this year. The Lady Rebels beat Madison by 41 earlier this season, but the defense also showed up, holding Ruston to a season-low 21 points.
“They (Ruston) are a really good offensive rebounding team, so we knew that was the No. 1 goal was to play team defense,” Green said.
“We had a lot of help. When they caught the ball and the person who was guarding the ball did a good job of keeping them in front of them, and then we had help and really rebounded well for us.
“We’re not a very tall team. Sometimes that can be one of our weaker points of our game, but it was certainly a big facet tonight that we did well.”
The Bearcats struggled to net points and only had one the entire first quarter on a free throw by Sunni McAllister.
Ruston’s first bucket from the field came with 2:43 left to play in the second quarter on a shot by KeKe Wright, but by then West Monroe had built up a 15-3 lead.
Junior Abby Lee hit seven of the Lady Rebels’ first nine points of the game and finished with a game-high 17.
“Whenever you start the playoffs, there is some anxiety and pressure when the game starts, so you need those first few baskets to go in, then all of a sudden it takes care of itself,” Green said.
“Abby, she’s been guarded like none other this year. She was second team, all-state last year, and everyone in the state knows about her. And trust me, it’s a chore every night she plays to get everything she can get because everyone is putting their best defenders on her.”
Samarius Colquitt also finished in double figures for West Monroe with 11 points and guard Desiree’ Lyons had 10, while getting more comfortable filling in at the point guard position for Bates.
“She’s kind of played point for a two-week span when Bates had hurt her ankle, so the girls were comfortable in the fact they have won without My’Kiaya, but Desiree’ knew she had to step up and what better night than senior night?” Green said.
“We are excited for her, and the little freshman (Jaquell Robinson) came in, so between them now it’s a senior and freshman duo.”
Jasmyn Johnson added seven points for the Lady Rebels, and Wright finished as Ruston’s high scorer with 9.
West Monroe will remain at home for the second round of the Class 5A playoffs this Monday when it hosts No. 15 Helen Cox, which defeated No. 18 Mandeville 48-46 Thursday night.