CCHS to face undefeated Merryville
Central Catholic girls basketball coach Jamarr Garrett wanted a familiar foe. Instead, he will get an undefeated one.
When addressing the media following his team’s win against No. 7 seed Tensas Thursday, Garrett said he hoped his squad’s semifinal matchup would be with No. 6 West St. John, who had eliminated the Lady Eagles from the 2012 and 2013 playoffs.
However, No. 3 Merryville, which sports a 31-0 record, knocked off West St. John 64-57 in Merryville Thursday to advance to its third Top 28 in school history (first in 10 years) and a date with the No. 2 Lady Eagles (27-3) today at 2:45 p.m. at McNeese State University’s Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
Regardless of the opponent, the Lady Eagles will have to win if they want to continue their impressive season and ultimately fulfill their goal of a state championship.
The Lady Eagles return to semifinals a season after falling to West St. John 66-58 in Class 1A’s round of four a year ago.
Garrett, in his second year as head coach, said he thinks the team is more focused this year.
“After our (quarterfinal) game, they showed no emotion as if ‘it’s just another game, another win. Let’s go and take care of business,’” Garrett said.
During the Lady Eagles’ run to the semifinals — which has featured wins against No. 31 Logansport (64-20), No. 15 St. Mary (43-25) and most recently, Thursday against No. 7 Tensas (64-45) — the Lady Eagles have faced adversity as guard Meo Knight went out with an injury against Logansport, missed the St. Mary game and the squad didn’t know for days after she injured herself if she would play again this season.
She made her return to the court at what she and Garret said was not full strength but was still effective.
Senior Gee Garrett said that she thought the Lady Eagles have bonded through the adversity.
“I think at one point and time when Meo wasn’t playing, we felt a little down and out and didn’t think we’d be able to get through it, but just winning the game that we played without her was big and it made us realize that all we have to do is step up and everything would be better.”
Gee Garrett said the squad continued to step up when Knight returned last game.
Knight said the break between last week’s quarterfinal game and today’s semifinal contest was a big help for her recover as much as possible for what she hopes is two games in four days.
Against Merryville, the Lady Eagles will face a team that they routed 73-49 two years ago in the Class 1A regionals before falling in the quarterfinals to West St. John.
This year’s squad is led by sisters, Peyton and Andrea Cournoyer as well as post player JaCinda Carter.
“It’s basically the same team our girls faced two years ago in the second round, just they’ve matured a lot, got a little older,” Coach Garrett said. “It shows. That’s why they’re 31-0 right now.”
Both the Cournoyers started when the Lady Eagles played at Merryville in 2012, with Peyton Cournoyer scoring eight and Andrea, five.
Coach Garrett said the Cournoyer sisters are good shooters, while Carter is a good rebounder.
Against Merryville, Coach Garrett said the Lady Eagles will have to make sure they don’t give up second-chance scoring opportunities like they have been doing.
Central Catholic assistant coach Joe Jones, who was on the bench during the Lady Eagles’ contest two years ago, said Merryville is playing with the same style.
He said they score a lot in transition, and while on defense, they play a lot of man-to-man, which Jones said is in the Lady Eagles’ favor in terms of matchups.
When the two squads last met, both Knight and teammate Randi Brown recorded double-doubles as Knight finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block, while Brown had 19 points, 12 rebounds and nine steals.
In last week’s win against Tensas, Brown led the Lady Eagles with 29 points and also contributed seven assists, seven rebounds, four steals and one block.
Knight had 19 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, two steals and three assists, while Megan Landry had eight points, one steal and five rebounds and Gee Garrett, six points, one steal, two assists and seven rebounds.
In the win against West St. John, Andrea Cournoyer led the Lady Panthers with 20 points. She also recorded seven assists and snared six rebounds, while Peyton Cournoyer and Carter each recorded double-doubles. Peyton Cournoyer had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Carter had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jania Williams scored eight points, too.
Jones said if the Lady Eagles rebound and run their offense, they will be OK in Thursday’s contest.
While Merryville does enter the game with an undefeated mark, Central Catholic senior Anastasia Johnson said the Lady Eagles must forget about the Lady Panthers’ record as well as their own when they get on the court because “really at this point in time rank doesn’t matter. It’s just all about who is having the better day.”
Additional reporting by The Beauregard Daily News