DENHAM SPRINGS – On a night when a Hawaiian theme flourished inside the Grady Hornsby Gym, the Lady Jackets of Denham Springs rode a wave of pride as they pounded Pineville 51-33 in Class 5A regional-round playoff action.
The fifth-seeded Jackets, who improved to 25-5 with their second straight playoff win at home, must now travel for a quarterfinal match-up on Monday. They will face the No. 4 West Monroe, which pulled out a 49-47 win over No. 13 McKinley in its regional-round game on Thursday.
“We were kind of challenged,” said DSHS head coach Shelly LaPrarie. “We sort of had some bulletin board material this week. I won’t allude to it, but it brought it out of us. And if that’s what it took, then that’s what it took.”
Pineville, the No. 12 seed, ended its season at 23-10. The Lady Rebels handed Denham one of its five losses with a 38-36 setback in its season-opener up in central Louisiana at the Marksville Tournament.
Denham Springs, which scored just a combined 62 points in its previous two games, shot 50 percent (22 of 44) from the field, as the Lady Jackets won their eighth game in a row and 17th of their last 18.
The Lady Jackets’ defense has now held its two playoff opponents to a combined 49 points.
Denham Springs also had a hand in most of 21 turnovers that the Lady Rebels committed and shut out Pineville for more than five minutes overlapping the third and fourth periods.
Denham Springs jumped out to a 15-5 lead after the first period, as six different Lady Jackets scored buckets, led by Brianna Ensminger with a pair of field goals.
Denham connected on 7-of-10 from the floor in the opening period, but the lead could have been even larger had it not been for four misses out of five attempts at the free throw line.
After Pineville’s Kala Freeman opened the second quarter with a bucket to trim the deficit back to single digits at 15-7, Denham Springs reeled off three straight baskets by three different players, beginning with a jump-shot by Ensminger.
Fellow senior Katie Patterson scored off an offensive rebound and then junior guard Jena Mabile popped one from outside to widen the Lady Jackets’ lead to 21-7.
Mabile picked up an assist less than a minute later with a feed to Ensminger, but the Lady Jackets were limited to just three free throws over the final four minutes of the second period to pull into halftime up 26-15.
“She (Pineville head coach Tiffany Edmondson) came out in the box-and-one, which she is noted for, but I really didn’t know who she would box for us,” said LaPrarie. “So she had a box on ‘LeLe’ (Carlisha Kinchen), so Bre (Brianna Ensminger) stepped up huge in the first quarter. But that’s what our kids do. When they take one away, another one steps up. And we did it again tonight.”
Junior post Caletria Curtis was held to just two first-half points, but she more than made up for that in the third period.
Curtis scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the stanza, beginning with a 3-point bucket to open the second half.
After Pineville’s Freeman and Haley Deshantelle scored back-to-back buckets in less than a minute to cut Denham’s lead back to 10 (29-19), an offensive put-back of her own miss was more evidence of what lay ahead for Curtis.
After the Lady Rebels made one last attempt at re-entering the contest following a 3-point goal by RyDeja McQuan to close the gap to eight points (33-25), the Lady Jackets went on an 8-0 run to close out the third period to take a 41-25 lead into the fourth.
Precision passing was the key in Denham’s resurgence, as Ensminger hit Kinchen for a bucket and then seconds later, Kinchen turned the tables and fed Curtis, who knocked home a jump-shot.
A steal and lay-in by Curtis with 33 seconds left and a turnaround basket by Patterson with just two ticks showing opened up Denham’s biggest lead of the night up to that point.
While the Lady Rebels continued their scoring drought more than two minutes into the fourth period, the Lady Jackets were applying the finishing nails, as Curtis scored on a spin-move, followed by back-to-back baskets by Kinchen, turning the latter into a three-point play and a 23-point (48-25) lead.
“We’ve really worked on moving the basketball and executing our passes,” said LaPrarie. “And we’ve gotten better. And they came out in the third quarter on a mission.”
Kinchen also finished in double-figures with 12 points, while Ensminger tossed in nine points and Patterson seven.
Freeman was Pineville’s lone double-figure scorer with 10 points, while Deshantelle finished with seven.
Pineville 5 10 10 8 — 33
Denham Springs 15 11 15 10 — 51
DENHAM SPRINGS: Caletria Curtis 15, Carlisha Kinchen 12, Brianna Ensminger 9, Katie Paterson 7, Jena Mabile 4, Rachael Riley 4. PINEVILLE: Kala Freeman 10, Haley Deshantelle 7, Ariele Davis 5, Camille Faircloth 4, Danyale Bayonne 4, RyDeja MaQuarn 3, Farron Sapp 1.