ZACHARY - Denham Springs used an explosive third quarter to power past Zachary 45-31 in District 4-5A play Tuesday.
The Lady Jackets (24-4, 5-0 in district) and Lady Broncos nearly totaled the same amount of points in each quarter except for the third, where Denham Springs enjoyed a 21-8 advantage over Zachary.
“All in all, they kept it together,” Denham Springs coach Blake Zito said. “At this point it’s about finding ways to win, and we found a way to win.”
Denham Springs’ Alexius Horne led both teams in scoring with 17 points, shooting 5-of-10 from the field and 7-of-10 from the free throw line.
Jala Robinson finished with 12 points with some high-percentage shots, finishing 5-of-6 attempts from the field and making both her free throws.
Both Kate Thompson and Desiree Jones scored eight points.
“I didn’t play my best, but I did enough to win the game,” Horne, a Southeastern Louisiana signee, said. “So that’s all that matters.”
Osha Cummings led the Broncos (15-16) in scoring, totaling 13 points with five field goals, including a game-opening 3-pointer. Senior Mya McDaniels added nine points.
After a slow start from both sides, Denham Springs started to pull ahead midway through the second quarter. Just as the Lady Jackets started to stretch the lead to 11-7, a timeout halted their momentum and allowed Zachary to make up ground.
The Lady Broncos made a mini-run to close out the half, trailing just, 13-12.
“We just weren’t scoring,” Zito said. “Defense was there. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole. Execution wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t falling.”
“It was our mistakes,” Horne added. “We were playing fast and we miss buckets and passes.”
Denham Springs came out much more assertive in the second half, setting the tempo with a heavier press. Consecutive buckets from Thompson opened the door for the Yellow Jackets, who
opened a double-digit lead following a three-point play from Horne followed by a steal layup from Jones.
“We stuck together,” Horne said. “We kept playing defense and kept playing hard. We hung tough as a team and listened to our coaches.”
Zachary had a tough shooting night, while DSHS heated up in third, making it difficult for the Lady Broncos to keep pace.
“We did not do well in the third quarter,” Zachary coach Tami McClure said. “Which they took advantage of. But then we tied them again in the fourth quarter. It’s that third quarter that’s killing us right now. It’s coming out from halftime and keeping that momentum that we had in the first half. I thought we had good looks, but things weren’t falling.”
The victory enabled DSHS to set up a showdown at home at 6:30 p.m. Friday for the 4-5A championship against Walker (28-4, 5-0). The Lady Jackets hold the state’s No. 7 power rating and the Lady Cats No. 2. in Class 5A.
“We got a big one on Friday,” Zito said. “We know a district championship is on the line. A lot of people say that doesn’t mean nothing, but I promise you that if you go ask people in Walker and Denham Springs, it means a whole lot to both of them.”