CCHS advances to 1A title game
Central Catholic’s Meo Knight dribbles against Merryville HIgh School’s Peyton Cournoyer during the squads’ Class 1A semifinal contest in Lake Charles Thursday. The Lady Eagles, the No. 2 seed, knocked off the previously undefeated Lady Panthers, the No. 3 seed, to advance to the Class 1A state championship game Saturday. They will face top seed North Central at 2 p.m. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Central Catholic was relaxed in the locker room and it translated on the court as the Lady Eagles coasted to a fairly comfortable 68-51 win against Merryville High School in Class 1A semifinal action Thursday and advance to the school’s first-ever girls’ basketball title game Saturday.
Central Catholic never trailed as Randi Brown’s basket just seconds in the game on the Lady Eagles’ first possession gave them a 2-0 lead.
From there, the Lady Eagles’ lead grew to as much as 21-8 when Meo Knight made one of two free throws with 49.3 seconds left in the period.
The Lady Eagles led 21-10 after the first quarter.
“I think we came out more confident. Last year we kind of were a little shaky, but this year we knew what it was like to come to this environment and lose and we didn’t want to have that feeling again,” Knight said, referencing last year’s 66-58 semifinal defeat to West St. John.
In addition to Knight and Brown, Gee Garrett also provided a nice inside option for the Lady Eagles in the first quarter when she scored six points, including one in which she drove and scored after a spin move near the basket.
Garrett said that getting Gee Garret involved early was a big part in taking pressure off Knight and Brown.
“Gee’s been working hard,” Coach Garrett said. “Coach Joe does a lot with the post players during practice, and she takes advantage of that time. Not only her under the goal, but she hit a short jumper from the corner. That’s showing her confidence right now.”
The Lady Eagles led 21-10 after the first quarter and expanded their lead to 34-18 by halftime.
While Central Catholic got its offense going, led by Brown’s 13 points and Knight’s eight, Merryville tried to turn to the 3-point shoot too much, Coach Mark Perow said, as the squad finished the half 0-for-7. He said his squad also missed some easy shots in the opening half, which he attributed to nerves.
“We got one senior, one junior, (a) very young team out there playing,” he said.
Eighth-grader Andrea Cournoyer led Merryville in the first half with eight.
Central Catholic continued to extend their lead, taking a 49-31 lead after three quarter.
While Knight and Brown scored the bulk of the Lady Eagles’ points, Knight also found Hallie Autin inside for two buckets in the quarter.
Brown said when she and Knight are garnering others’ attention; the ability to find others who can score helps them.
“It gives us a chance to get everybody going because when they’re going, it helps us a lot on offense and defense.” Brown said.
In the fourth quarter, Merryville made a run at Central Catholic as they went on a 17-9 surge to begin the quarter and cut the Lady Eagles’ lead to 58-48 with less than 2 minutes remaining, following Peyton Cournoyer’s third 3-pointer of the quarter and the Lady Panthers’ fourth of the run.
Merryville also was helped in the run by inside buckets.
“I kept telling them that we had to penetrate,” Perow said. “When you get in this kind of environment and playing on these goals — you’re not used to the perception.”
However, the Lady Eagles sealed the game at the free throw line when Knight and Brown combined to go 10-for-10 in the final 1:39 for the victory.
Brown led the Lady Eagles with a double-double with 29 points and 12 rebounds as well as two blocks, two steals and one assist.
Knight had 20 points as well as nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal.
Other top contributors included Garrett, 12 points, four rebounds and two steals; Autin, four points, two rebounds and a steal; and Landry, three points, four rebounds and a steal.
For Merryville, Peyton Cournoyer had 18 points, two assists, four rebounds and two steals, while her sister, eighth-grader Andrea Cournoyer, had 16 points, five assists, four rebounds and one steal.
On Saturday, the Lady Eagles will face No. 1 seed North Central, who defeated No. 5 seed Arcadia 61-58 in the game preceding the Central Catholic-Merryville matchup. The 1A state championship game is set for a 2 p.m. tip at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.