WALKER – If this was a tuneup for the playoffs, the postseason should be pretty good.
Denham Springs High outscored Walker 7-0 over the final 3:25 to pull away for a 46-38 win in District 4-5A action on Friday.
"We put four quarters of basketball together, and that's what I've been asking them to do all year," Denham coach Shelly LaPrairie said. "We did it (Friday), and they see what happens when we do that. We're pretty happy right now."
Lady Cats’ guard Candace Ellis' putback cut the DSHS lead to 36-35 before Raychelle Riley hit a 3-pointer. Walker missed out on a number of scoring opportunities but finally converted when Breanna Zeringue hit her seventh -- and final -- 3-pointer of the game.
It was also the last basket of the game for the Lady Cats, who missed four shots down the stretch and were called for a travel.
"We weren't turning it over a lot against their press, and I told them (team) they were probably going to pick the pressure up a little bit, but we just stayed with it," LaPrairie said. "We stayed with the plan, and everybody did their job. When we had a bad moment, nobody put their head down. They just battled back."
While Walker struggled later, DSHS flourished under the basket as Desiree Jones got a putback and Maia Robinson scored on a pair of inside buckets, including the game's final points after she hauled in a rebound and scored after picking up a rebound when Riley missed the second of two free throws with 10 seconds to play.
"With Walker, I'll give it to them: They're never going to give up," said Robinson, who had 17 points. "They're going to keep fighting the whole game, which is why we have to match their intensity and go 10 times harder."
Walker led 30-26 at halftime and Zeringue, who finished with a game-high 28 points, hit a 3-pointer to start the third quarter before the Lady Jackets found their stride behind consecutive treys from Kate Thompson and an inside basket from Robinson to grab a 34-33 lead.
"I was looking for the best shot on the floor because I knew we had to get some points on the board," said Thompson, who finished with 14 points. "I was open, and I shot. I just kept shooting because they were going in."
Lady Cats’ coach Korey Arnold pointed to the burst as a game-changer as Walker missed a number of shots and turned the ball over during the stretch.
"We turned them over five times in the third quarter and didn't convert on any of that," he said.
"I thought that was the difference in the game, because if we covert those, that puts us up 15, and I don't think they've got the firepower to come back. But what it did is allowed them to hang around and then they hit a couple shots."
Thompson’s backside jumper gave the Lady Jackets (20-9, 4-2 District 4-5A) a 36-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter after Ellis missed a 3-pointer that rimmed out at the buzzer.
Denham also helped itself by limiting Zeringue's production after she scored 22 points in the first half.
"Once they realized I was getting kind of hot, they kind of went box-and-one like they normally do," Zeringue said. "I was waiting for it to happen sooner or later.
"It's not all about me. We've got others that can shoot the ball."
Zeringue and Ellis hit all of the field goals for the Lady Cats, combining for 9 3-pointers. Denham had six 3-pointers.
The early stages of the second quarter featured six lead changes and a 23-23 tie on Robinson’s basket, but Zeringue hit a jumper to start a 7-3 burst to close out the half that ended on her 3-pointer to give Walker a 30-26 lead.
Zeringue was the difference for the Lady Cats (27-7, 4-2) in the first quarter, scoring all 14 of Walker’s points with four 3-pointers.
DSHS jumped out to a 7-0 lead, working the ball inside on a couple of backside baskets before Zeringue began her run.
Both teams are headed to the Class 5A playoffs and will both likely host in the first round. The LHSAA pairings will be released on Monday.
DENHAM SPRINGS 46, WALKER 38
DSHS 14 12 10 10 -- 46
Walker 14 16 3 5 -- 38
DSHS (46) -- Kennedy King 1 0-0 3, Raychelle Riley 3 1-2 10, Kate Thompson 6 0-2 14, Desiree Jones 1 0-1 2, Maia Robinson 7 3-6 17, Celine Rodriguez 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 4-11 46.
Walker (38) -- Raven Barze 0 0-0 0, Asia Garner 0 0-0 0, Breanna Zeringue 9 0-0 28, Candace Ellis 3 0-0 8, Victoria Smith 0 2-2 2, Mekayla Rothman 0 0-0 0, Lauren Pool 0-0 0. Totals 12 2-2 38.
3-point goals -- DSHS 6 (Riley 3, Thompson 2, King 1); Walker 9 (Zeringue 7, Ellis 2). Total fouls -- DSHS 7, Walker 14. Records: DSHS 20-9, 4-2 District 4-5A, Walker 27-7, 4-2. Up next: Class 5A playoffs -- TBA.