Fair Park dialed up the right numbers with a bombastic first quarter in rolling over outmanned Ben Franklin 71-31 on Wednesday night in the opening salvo of the LHSAA Class 4A girls’ state basketball playoffs.
With super sophomore Ty’Ronica Foster scoring almost at will, and with Dominique Johnson spearheading a dominating defensive front, the Falcons were no match for a team bent on making it to Lake Charles for the state championship contest.
The Lady Indians (24-6) romped in front 26-2, forcing 15 Falcons turnovers in the first quarter, and coasted into the second round.
“We have to keep playing defense because we didn’t keep our motor running in the second half,” Fair Park sophomore Dominique Johnson said. “But we did a good job getting the ball into the post and we ran our offense well.”
The No. 4-seeded Lady Indians will play the winner of Thursday’s matchup between No. 13 Bastrop and No. 20 Vandebilt Catholic on Monday. If Bastrop wins, Fair Park will be at home.
Missing a trio of key players, including LSU soccer-signee Alex Thomas, who elected to stay home and prepare for Thursday’s playoff soccer contest, the Falcons (17-13) had trouble going toe-to-toe with the speedy Lady Indians.
“We lost our post player, who was a very key player for us, in midseason, and Alex didn’t want to risk coming up here and getting injured,” said Ben Franklin coach Chrissa Hailey, who played collegiately at what is now ULM with current ULM assistant coach Eun Jung OK. “We haven’t been to the playoffs for four years, so just getting here was an accomplishment for this team. And Fair Park is a very good team.”
Foster, who logged about a half-dozen steals on the night, led all scorers with 28 points, most of them coming on runners or layups off Falcon turnovers.
“Our goal was get the ball into the post, get to the bucket and get back on defense,” Foster said. “We got a little too comfortable, stopped playing defense and they started scoring.”
Johnson (17 points) was equally impressive in the half-court defense, jumping or diving to pickoff several passes, while Savannah Thomas (11 points) was dominating inside on missed jumpers.
“We have to continue to focus on what we need to do to get better. We are a post-oriented team,” Fair Park coach Cherise Sims said. “We shared the ball very well tonight and we played good trap defense. Our high-low offense was also working well.”
The Falcons didn’t post a double-digit scorer, but the visitors managed solid play from Dia Fortenberry, Aubreanna Austin, Malaina Jones and sophomore Tierra Foley, who led Ben Franklin with eight points.