The West Ouachita Lady Chiefs basketball team will enter Thursday night’s 6 p.m. playoff home game against No. 24 Morgan City (13-9) in the midst of the best season in program history.
The ninth-seeded Lady Chiefs (23-9) have earned the highest seed in the playoffs ever and have more wins in the fifth-year under head coach Jimbo Murphy than in the first two years combined.
The hard work put forth by the entire team has gotten the team this opportunity, but the long term dedication of seniors on the team has been laying the ground work for success for years.
Senior returning starters such as guards Ruby Gentile (3 ppg, 5 apg, 4 spg) and Rebecca Skains (15 ppg) along with senior transfer McKenzie Simmons (10 ppg, 8 rpg) have kept the team on the right path. The senior leadership is deep with the Lady Chiefs and also comes off the bench with Hannah Blake.
It has been a perfect storm of growing up at the right time and coming together for the Lady Chiefs who have a strong junior class as well with center Trinity Griffin, Sierra Gasca and Anna Wigly.
“Gasca is probably our best defensive player,” West Ouachita coach Jimbo Murphy said. “She broke her hand and was worried about that, but she has the cast off now and is ready to go.”
“This group bought in to what we wanted to do,” Murphy said. “I told them ‘now you get to see it pay off if you take care of business.'”
Murphy is stressing to his team not to rest on their laurels because the postseason is an unforgiving beast.
“You can’t get complacent because one bad game means you’re done,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he expects his team to respect Morgan City on Thursday regardless of the seeding.
“(Morgan City has) good guards and some size, they are well rounded team,” Murphy said. “Play four quarters, if we play the way we are capable, we will be alright. I don’t think this group has played its best game together yet. I hope that is coming in the next couple of weeks.”
Lady Rebels host Dominican
In Class 5A, No. 3 West Monroe hosts No. 30 Dominican in the first round on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The two programs are no stranger to each other, West Monroe holds a 2-1 lead in the playoff series that began with West Monroe winning 47-40 in the 2004 Class 5A championship game.
The teams then renewed things in the 2008 and 2009 playoffs.
West Monroe won 69-47 in the second round of the 2008 playoffs. Dominican returned the favor in the second round of the 2009 tournament with a 46-43 triumph.
“We are excited to be at home,” West Monroe coach John Green told The News-Star on Monday. “We know how well coached (Dominican) is. It is someone we are familiar with, and we have gone up against twice in the second round.”
Connect with Cody on Twitter @cfutrellTNS or via e-mail email@example.com