Destrehan conquers quarterfinals, headed to state tournament

Destrehan suffered a scare early in Thursday night’s Class 5A quarterfinal game against visiting Ouachita Parish, the sixth-seeded Lions taking a 38-30 lead into halftime. Then Cara Ursin happened.

Louisiana’s reigning Miss Basketball scored 42 points, including 11 straight to end the third quarter in a pivotal run, and the nationally-ranked Ladycats earned their ticket to next week’s LHSAA state basketball tournament in Hammond, 78-63 winners at home.

Ursin added 18 rebounds and six assists alongside her game-high point total. 

“We said this was our house, and we don’t lose in our house,” Ursin said. “The fact that it’s our senior year, it was a huge factor. We went back there for halftime, our heads were kinda down. I pulled team to the side. This game is not over. This is the first quarter, we’re 0-0.”

Destrehan (33-0) will face No. 7 seed Natchitoches Central in the semifinals, that game to be played at the University Center with tipoff scheduled for 8 p.m.  

It is Destrehan’s third trip to the state tournament in the past four years.

“We’re not going home today,” Destrehan coach Angi Butler said. “We don’t let anyone cut down our nets. You’ve played on them here for four years, protect what’s yours. Cara told me, ‘I’m the security guard and I’m gonna lock it up.’ And she did just that.

“We needed to get her the ball. (In the first half, the team was) building a table with a bunch of scotch tape. Give it to the hammer and the nails and let her put it together for you. Get the ball to Kiki Kenner, get it to Cara Ursin, because they’re going to create those opportunities for everybody to make the plays you know we can make.”

Destrehan trailed throughout the first half against the bigger, longer Lions (30-5). But Ursin scored seven of the first 11 third quarter points to draw Destrehan within two.

The Wildcats were ready to make their move. Ursin made a steal and assisted a Jerlicia Morris layup that tied the game. Then Korriana Reynaud sunk a 3-pointer to make it a 44-41 Destrehan lead before Morris followed suit with her own from the wing. Kiki Kenner made a layup to push it to a 49-44 lead.

Ursin took complete control from there. She sank a 3 from the wing, then made a layup and drew a foul for a 3-point play. Ouachita was whistled for a technical foul on the play, and Ursin sank two more free throws to make it 57-49. Another Ursin drive for a score was followed by another technical foul, and she added another free throw to make it 60-49 headed into the third quarter.

“I can’t let my team down, my coach down, these fans down,” Ursin said. “I have to do what I have to do. At the end of the day, I know my team and my coaches gonna appreciate me for it. We’re not going home. I wasn’t about to let us lose.”

Ouachita never cut the lead to single digits from there.

Morris scored 12 and Reynaud scored 10 points for Destrehan. Kenner added seven.

Dede Walker scored 15 for Ouachita. Brandi Washington scored 14 and Mahoganie Williams scored 12 for Ouachita.

Ursin is one of six senior Wildcats, and she said the chance to return to the state tournament with her teammates makes for a special feeling.

“These girls are amazing,” Ursin said. “I would rather be out here with no one else. I absolutely love this team. Even more important, I’ve been playing with this team, particularly these seniors, for my entire life. For us to come together, that feeling is unexplainable.”

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