Lady Spartans cruise past Slidell in first-round matchup
It was a game for about 10 minutes. Then East Ascension blew Slidell out of the water.
Despite being down 2017 district MVP Alynzia Morris, the eighth-seeded Lady Spartans took care of business in their first-round playoff game against No. 25 Slidell on Thursday night.
After the Lady Tigers went on a 14-4 run in the second quarter to get within four points, East Ascension was able to clamp down and unleash a run of their own that Slidell was never able to overcome. The Lady Spartans cruised to a 57-30 victory.
"We moved the ball better, played a little bit better defense and we rebounded the ball better,” East Ascension head coach Dennis Chandler said.
Tristen Washington started the game with five straight points for the Lady Spartans, and a long transition pass to Mikala Mitchell for an easy layup contributed to a 13-0 run that put them ahead 16-2.
However, East Ascension began to get sloppy with the ball, allowing Slidell to cut the deficit to 18-10 heading to the second.
The Lady Tigers got even closer, cutting it down to 20-16, but Washington went back to work for the Lady Spartans.
She dished out an assist and then sank a jumper to put her team back up 10. An and-one play by Asia Causey in the waning moments of the half put East Ascension up 29-17 at the break.
In the second half, it was all Lady Spartans.
They began the third quarter with a 6-0 run, and two 3-pointers by Diniaa McZeal made the lead balloon to 20.
They took a 48-24 advantage into the fourth quarter, and they never looked back.
Washington led the way for the Lady Spartans with 14, while McZeal was close behind with 12.
Causey and Sadie Williams each had nine, and Mitchell and Sedasia LeBlanc had seven apiece.
The Lady Spartans were once again without Morris. Coach Chandler said that she is likely out for the rest of the season.
Morris broke her wrist at the start of the year and was forced to miss over a month of action. She did return, but midway into the district tilt, she broke her pinky.
"We've been missing our best player for pretty much the whole season. We've had to keep adjusting for her being gone, and you have to give credit to the kids for being able to do that,” Chandler said.
Even though the Lady Spartans made it look easy in the first round, Coach Chandler said he still sees deficiencies that his team needs to improve moving forward.
"I would like to see us get a lot more disciplined and do a better job of rebounding. I think we gave up too many easy shots tonight,” Chandler said. “I thought we showed great focus for the first four or five minutes, and then we relaxed some. You can't do that. The way the playoffs are set up this year, I think it's a crap shoot between the top 12 or 14 teams."
East Ascension is now set for a second-round game. They’ll host No. 9 Sulphur (23-9).
Coach Chandler doesn’t want to see his team fall victim to a second-round upset, like last year.
"I'm trying to get them ready to play. That's what I'm trying to explain to them, that you can't get relaxed,” Chandler said. “This is just one step. There are four more steps to go. You can't get to three unless you get past two. You can't get to two if you don't take care of one.
“So, I'm gonna coach every minute. When you come in, try to contribute to a win. There is no garbage time. We've worked too hard and put too much time in for that."