WESTWEGO - The hearts were willing, their mind and bodies not so much.
Torpedoed by 25 turnovers and a buzz saw of an opponent, Walker’s Lady Cats endured their worst loss of the season in a 68-44 defeat to Lee Magnet Thursday night in the second round of the Gold Division of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic at the Alario Center.
Walker (19-4) lost for the first time in two games in the tournament to fall into the consolation bracket. The Lady Cats are scheduled to play their final game of the tournament against Cabrini at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Alario Center.
“The bottom line was we had no energy,’’ said Walker acting coach Meoka Young, who ran the team in the absence of coach Hannah Jones. “We weren’t tough enough. They wanted it more than us. There’s no other way I can put it.’’
Senior guard and LSU signee Tiara Young scored a game-high 19 points and guard Tarondia Harold contributed 13 for the Lady Cats who were undone by a 22-10 run by the Lady Patriots in the third period.
The lopsided quarter turned a 31-24 halftime deficit into a 53-34 mountain to climb entering the final eight minutes. A 15-10 closing by Lee sealed the defeat that replaced a 54-38 loss to Denham Springs in the Livingston Parish Tournament championship as Walker’s worst setback of the season.
Lee (17-1) improved to 2-0 in the tournament while winning its ninth straight outing overall. The Division II finalists from a year ago advanced into Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinals against Loranger, a 70-61 winner against Sam Houston on Thursday.
Lee guard Diamond Hunter scored 16 points. The Lady Patriots owned a 43-41 advantage on the boards.
“I think our defense was key,’’ Lee coach Valencia Wilson said. “We contained a phenomenal player tonight and you can’t take anything away from No. 23 (Tiara Young). She’s an outstanding player on both ends of the court.”
Lee outscored Walker in all four periods while forcing 14 second-half turnovers on top of the 11 Walker was pressured into during the first two periods.
“Lee did a good job and had a good plan,’’ Meoka Young said. “They came out in a box-and-one and we knew that they would. We just didn’t execute well.’’
And said the Lady Cats coach, “We didn’t guard anybody. We were horrible defensively. That comes from not having energy. Our top guards had trouble handling the pressure and we didn’t do a good job of playing up tempo.’’
In addition to their 32 points, Harold and Tiara Young grabbed 8 and 6 rebounds for the Lady Cats, who got only 12 points from five other players.
“We weren’t there mentally,’’ Tiara Young said. “We didn’t do specifically what the coaches asked us to do and that killed us, too. That is not our normal focus. We’ve just got to get to practice and fix it. We have to come prepared for every game. We can’t pick and choose when we want to play.’’
Walker 55, Marian Catholic 36
The Lady Cats advanced with a first-round victory Wednesday over Marian Catholic of Chicago.
Tiara Young poured in 31 points and Asia Garner added 10, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Walker built a 32-20 halftime lead with Young scoring 15 points in the first half.