East Ascension was able to stay in the driver's seat in their pursuit of their second District 5-5A championship in three years with an emphatic 58-30 victory over St. Joseph's Academy at home on Thursday night.

East Ascension was able to stay in the driver's seat in their pursuit of their second District 5-5A championship in three years with an emphatic 58-30 victory over St. Joseph's Academy at home on Thursday night.

The Redstickers came out hungry in the first half and challenged the defending Class 5A state champions. They only trailed by one at the break.

But in the second half, East Ascension amped up their defense and caused a bevy of turnovers. They turned those St. Joseph's miscues into easy transition buckets. It led to them outscoring the Redstickers, 42-15, in the final two quarters.

"We rebounded better and started limiting them to one shot a possession," Lady Spartan head coach Dennis Chandler said. "In the first half, their kids did a real good job of being aggressive around the offensive glass. They out-worked us in that first half. You have to give them credit where credit is due.

"I've been telling them the whole year that in every game, you have to be ready. It wasn't so much that we weren't ready to play tonight; they just did a better job than we did in that first half."

East Ascension's offense got off to a rough start. They didn't score their first points until two whole minutes into the game.

However, late in the quarter, Tristen Washington converted an and-one play to give the Lady Spartans a 7-6 lead. They finished the opening period on a 5-0 run to carry a 9-6 advantage into the second.

They converted two quick buckets to go ahead 13-6, but that's when they went cold. They were only able to make one more field goal for the rest of the half.

St. Joseph's took advantage. They closed the second quarter on a 9-3 run to cut the deficit to 16-15 at the half.

The competitiveness of the game disappeared rather quickly in the third quarter.

East Ascension got a transition layup from Washington to push their advantage to seven, and Diniaa McZeal added back-to-back layups of her own to give the Lady Spartans their biggest lead of the game at 11.

Overall, East Ascension went on a 15-3 run to begin the second half. It netted them a 31-16 advantage.

To end the third quarter, McZeal drilled a 3-pointer. It gave the Lady Spartans a 35-22 lead heading to the fourth.

East Ascension kept rolling in the final period.

Sadie Williams made two buckets down low to swell the lead to 15. Washington drilled a turn-around jumper to push the advantage to 19 points.

From there, the Lady Spartans ran away with a 58-30 victory.

Leading the way for East Ascension was the senior guard duo of McZeal and Washington. McZeal scored a game-high 22 points. Washington added 16.

Williams chipped in with eight points.

It was the Lady Spartans' 10th straight victory and improved their overall record to 20-2.

In their final week of the regular season, they'll try to finish off a district title run with a road game against McKinley and a home matchup against archrival St. Amant.

"I'd like to see a lot more intensity and a lot more focus," Chandler said. "We have to recognize the moment and seize it. And enjoy it. I don't see the same enjoyment as there was last year. Hopefully, it'll come soon."