DENHAM SPRINGS -- It was business as usual Friday for the Denham Springs High girls, but now is the time when things get serious.
The Lady Yellow Jackets wrapped up the District 4-5A season with a 51-38 home victory over Central, sending DSHS to the playoffs on a high note after losing its only district game to Zachary three days earlier.
And while the Lady Jackets, currently rated No. 5 in the LHSAA Class 5A unofficial power rankings – took care of business against the Lady Wildcats, they know what the ultimate goal is now: A state championship.
DSHS (26-5) finished as the 5A runner-up last season, falling to Mount Carmel in the final.
“We will settle for nothing less than success,” DSHS center Maia Robinson said. “It’s a new season now.”
Lady Jackets’ coach Shelly LaPrairie, while happy with the win, knows what lies ahead.
“It’s one-and-done now,” she said. “We have to be a little bit smarter in certain situations and clean some things up.
“We lived up to expectations and we’re back in the playoffs where we want to be. Now we just have to see what happens.”
Denham jumped out to a quick start, going up 10-2 in the first 3:19 of the first quarter. Robinson led the way, scoring four points, blocking a shot and grabbing a rebound.
The Lady Jackets stretched the lead to 17-6 on Desiree Jones’ layup with 3 seconds left in the period. Robinson finished the quarter with six points, two blocks and two rebounds.
Both teams struggled in the second quarter, scoring seven points apiece to leave the score at 24-13 at halftime in favor of Denham.
Even with the low-scoring quarter, DSHS continued to pound the ball down low, getting Tremeeka Spikes involved more. Spikes scored four points in the period
The Lady Jackets kept going to Robinson and Spikes in the second half, never shying away from what has been a staple for the team all here – dominant post play.
“That’s what we do,” LaPrairie said. “It’s the highest percentage shot on the floor, so if we can get it in there and get those shots, then that’s what we want, because we think our post players are hard to guard.”
Spikes, who finished the game with a team-high 18 points, said working on the blocks with Robinson is something that comes natural for the both of them.
“We just work together and when one of us can’t get open, then we work to get the other one open,” Spikes said.
Robinson said playing with Spikes for so many years helps a lot.
“When you’ve been with someone for so long, it’s like a tag-team thing,” Robinson said. “You learn how they play and they learn how you play, so you work together to be the best.”
Central never could get over the hump, falling behind by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter before cutting the lead to 45-38 with 2 minutes left.
But Denham effectively ran time off the clock and played stifling defense the rest of the way, forcing two turnovers, including a steal by Kamryn King, to ice the game.
Spikes also led the way on the boards, grabbing 8 rebounds, while Robinson had 3 rebounds and 4 blocks. Jones had 4 rebounds and Denham finished with six steals, two by Caroline Taylor, who also scored 9 points.
The Lady Jackets now await Monday’s announcement of the 5A playoff bracket and who they will host in the first round.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- The Lady Jackets played the home finale in the gym at Denham Springs Freshman High School, but LaPrairie said the playoff opener will be back in Grady Hornsby gym, which was damaged during the 2016 flood.
- The game was played nearly mistake-free, as Denham Springs had 14 turnovers while Central committed just 10.
- Both teams missed 20 shots from the field, but Denham made 20 while Central made just 14.
DSHS 51, Central 38
Central 6 7 11 14 -- 38
DSHS 17 7 11 16 -- 51
Central (38) -- MYIA Forbes 16, Michiko Jackson 9, Hannah Cowart 8, Sarah Douglas 5. Totals 14-34 7-12 38.
DSHS (51) -- Tremeeka Spikes 18, Maia Robinson 9, Caroline Taylor 9, Christina Canale 7, Desiree Jones 6, Kamryn King 2. Totals 20-40 9-13 51.
3-point goals -- Central 3 (Cowart 2, Douglas 1), DSHS 2 (Taylor 1, Canale 1). Records: Central 20-11, 4-6 District 4-5A; DSHS 26-5, 9-1. Up next: Class 5A playoffs TBD.