The South Terrebonne girls basketball team did all it could to prepare for Ellender senior post player Orieon James in the days leading up to Tuesday night’s District 7-4A game against the Lady Patriots.
But none of it proved effective.
In leading Ellender to a 65-38 home victory, James erupted for 25 points to help the defending Class 4A champions improve to 15-6 overall and to 2-0 in district.
James got it done in a variety of ways, scoring on putbacks, free throws, layups and on extra passes from her teammates in the half court that set her up for high-percentage shots around the goal.
“Orieon James is a handful,” Lady Gators coach Nick Cenac said. “She hurt us last year. We game planned for her, but it’s hard to simulate her strength and her speed and how good she is in practice. We know what to do in practice, but it’s totally different when you get out her. She played really well and always made the right play. She’s a good player.”
James said organization was key to the Lady Patriots success on Tuesday.
“We wanted to make our games more organized instead of just playing wild out there,” James said. “When we come together and are more organized the ball moves more smoothly and then we got our rhythm. We were more focused on the simple things and executed.”
South Terrebonne (17-9 overall, 0-1 in district, 15th in 4A power ratings) never truly threatened the Lady Patriots.
Ellender (ninth in 4A power ratings) sprinted out to a 19-6 lead after the first quarter by forcing the Lady Gators into numerous turnovers then led 32-15 at halftime after a 3-pointer by Marghan Frierson near the end of the second quarter.
Frierson added 17 points, which included four 3-pointers, for Ellender, which put the game away with a big run to start the third quarter and led 52-22 at its end.
“Against a team like Ellender, you have to manage every possession on offense and defense,” Cenac said. “You can’t take things for granted and you have to take care of the ball. We dug ourselves a hole early. I thought we played hard and kept it respectable, but Ellender is just a great team.”
Kira Coleman added 10 points for Ellender, which earned credit for its half-court offensive execution from its coach Kenneth Dixon.
“We took the time to commit to it. I had to do some repetition,” Dixon said. “I had to pin it down. I know that they know now. We still need to cut down on unforced turnovers and we need to convert some easy putbacks in order to be a great team.”
Chloe Fleming led South Terrebonne with 11 points and the Lady Gators also got eight points from Laura White and seven points from Paityn Landry.
The win by Ellender sets the stage for a huge district showdown against South Lafourche (16-7 overall, 0-0 in district, third in 4A power ratings) at 6 p.m. Friday in Galliano.
“We know South Lafourche is a good team, well organized, good shooters, plays good defense,” Dixon said. “They have played some of the same teams we played and beat some of the teams that beat us. We expect it to be tough as usual. Every time we have gone down there it has never been anything other than tough. It’s always wall to wall people pulling for their team and they will have the band. I am already starting to make signs because it will be hard for my team to hear me. We have to go into the game knowing the things we have to do. It’s going to be tough.”
But James said the Lady Patriots are ready for the challenge.
“We are excited,” James said. “We expect it to be hype down there like it always is and we are expecting a good game.”