CENTRAL -- When the basketball wasn’t falling through the hoop at the rate Live Oak would have liked in the first half, the Lady Eagles took on more of a defensive posture.
Live Oak coach Michele Yawn couldn’t have been any happier with the result.
“I love defense,” Yawn said. “I really respect a lot of the teams in the (Livingston) parish that play that in-your-face, full-court, man-to-man. We haven’t been able to do that because we don’t have that much depth.”
Live Oak turned up its half-court defensive intensity and swung the pendulum of momentum in its favor, turning a close game into a double-digit lead before settling for a 26-22 victory Thursday over host Central in the summer league opener for both teams.
“I always try and get the girls to buy in on the defensive end,” Yawn said. “Offensively, we might have a bad night, but we have to get after people defensively regardless of what it is. If we can get after people, I think we’re going to be alright.”
The Lady Eagles forced their District 4-5A foe Lady Wildcats into eight of their 15 turnovers in the third quarter, turning a 12-10 halftime edge into a 24-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We’ve only practiced, I mean touched the ball for three days,” Central coach Terri Morris-Jones said. “I thought we did an exceptional job.”
Live Oak’s 1-2 punch of Dijone Flowers and Harmony Johnson combined on nine of their team’s 12 points leading to a lopsided 12-2 spurt in the third in which the Lady Eagles limited Central to only 0-of-2 shooting.
Guard Taylor Woodside also contributed during that time with an assist to Johnson, along with a free throw and 15-foot jumper against Central’s 2-3 zone.
Flowers ended the quarter, splitting a pair of defenders and driving past Central’s 6-foot-4 center Lani Moore for a lay-up with 23 seconds remaining.
“We added some new pieces to the puzzle that don’t understand the way that we play our zone,” Morris-Jones said. “Our rotation on defense is what caused some of the shots they got on the perimeter. When we understand our rotation then we’ll be OK.”
Flowers went to the bench after capping her 15-point performance with a lay-in off a feed from Aislinn White that made it 26-14 lead with 6:15 remaining.
Central reeled off the last eight points of the game, ignited by a 3-pointer from Morgan Rabalais, with guard Madison Branch adding four of her team-high 13 points that forced Flowers’ return to the game.
“I don’t want to have to take D out,” Yawn said of Flowers said. “I have to do a good job of subbing to give her a break. She can play all over, but if she gets into foul trouble I’ve got to find a good rotation so we don’t lose the lead like we did.”