DENHAM SPRINGS – Heading into her team’s opener in the Livingston Parish Tournament, Albany girls coach Stacy Darouse had two concerns – that the shooting woes that plagued the Lady Hornets last week would continue, and that Live Oak’s Dijone Flowers would provide a spark for the Lady Eagles.
Both of those things happened as Flowers scored a steady 36 points in a 48-45 victory over the Lady Hornets on Wednesday at Hornsby Gym.
“That was our fear – a player like (Dijone), she’s so talented,” Darouse said. “I don’t want to take anything away from the team effort of Live Oak, but she’s the kind of kid that can beat you by herself. You’re not going to win very many games when you give the other team’s best player 36 points.”
For Live Oak coach Michele Yawn’s crew the win over Albany was a role reversal after the Lady Eagles lost a jamboree game to the Lady Hornets earlier this season.
“We’ve had time to play. We’ve had time to practice. I’ve had my volleyball girls back now,” said Yawn, whose team advanced to the winners’ bracket for the first time in her three years coaching the Lady Eagles. “We’re able to work, and I’ve got freshmen that now have a little bit of experience. So with the season, comes seasoned players. I think that’s what that was. She (Darouse) does a great job at Albany, and I knew it was going to be a battle from the jump.”
Albany (6-2) led 34-33 at the end of the third quarter and went up 35-33 on a Madeline Oubre free throw to start the fourth.
As so often happened the game, Flowers keyed a run for Live Oak, going 6-for-7 from the line and getting a putback during an 8-1 burst that gave Live Oak a 41-36 lead with 3:45 to play.
“It just so happens (Dijone) is able to score 36 and nobody knows it,” Yawn said after her team moved to 7-2 on the season. “She does her job, and she gets other people involved. She scores 36, and it’s not all these fancy types of plays. I don’t care about her points. (Dijone) is leading this team better than she had last year, and that’s what I’m excited about.”
Camryn Woods’ 3-pointer cut the lead to 41-39. Woods later hit an inside basket to put Albany ahead 43-42, and the teams traded three one-point leads from there – the last a 46-45 Live Oak edge on a Flowers jumper.
The teams swapped several turnovers with Albany’s Layla D’Fonseca capping the stretch with a steal. However, multiple Lady Hornets missed four or five shots in a row under the basket.
“We didn’t have any intensity the entire game,” Darouse said. “When you’re playing at a high level of intensity, you get every loose ball, you get every rebound. It was the exact opposite for us tonight. We had the fumblies, and Live Oak got every loose ball. Live Oak got every rebound, because their intensity was higher than us tonight, and they deserved to win.”
Eventually, Flowers wound up with the ball, was fouled and hit a pair of free throws with 11.4 seconds for the final points of the game.
“I just drove to the goal and let them foul me,” said Flowers, who hit 12 field goals and went 12-for-15 from the line.
Woods fired up a 3-point attempt, but the ball ended up in Flowers’ hands again as the buzzer sounded.
“I knew we were down by three points,” said Woods, who finished with 14 points, including two 3-pointers. “We had to get a shot off. We didn’t have much time on the clock. We just had to take what we could get, but we couldn’t.
“We had a lot of plays where we could have made easy shots that we missed, and that’s really what cost us. We didn’t play good defense.”
The early stages of the game were a struggle for both teams, filled with plenty of turnovers and a 9-8 Live Oak lead.
“They want to create chaos and havoc, and that’s what they did,” Yawn said. “They did what they do. It’s just this time we were able to come out on top.”
The second quarter featured three lead changes and two ties before Woods hit a 3-pointer to start a 11-2 run that put the Lady Hornets up 24-15 on a Natalie Kelly basket.
Flowers, however, scored the final 5 points of the half on a pair of free throws and a three-point play to cut the lead to 24-20 at halftime.
Albany led by six early in the third quarter before Live Oak started slowing chipping away at the lead and tying it twice – the last time at 30 – before Albany went up 34-31 on a pair of Kelly free throws. Kelly finished with 16 points.
Harmony Johnson’s basket on an in-bounds pass trimmed it to 34-33 going into the final quarter.
“Yeah, it’s big for us,” Yawn said of the. “Albany’s a great team. They have a great program. They’ve got a tradition, and I love it. I’m excited about schools like that.”
LIVE OAK 48, ALBANY 45
Live Oak 9 11 13 15 -- 48
Albany 8 16 10 11 -- 45
Live Oak (48) – Honor Johnson 5 0-1 10, Dijone Flowers 12 12-15 36, Zyriah Pink 0 1-4 1, Jamie Elenbaas 0 0-0 0, Jaelyn Ray 0 1-2 1, Carson Felder 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 14-22 48.
Albany (45) – Camryn Woods 6 0-0 14, Tristan Miles 3 2-2 8, Devyn Hoyt 0 0-0 0, Layla D’Fonseca 0 4-6 4, Natalie Kelly 5 6-10 16, Madeline Oubre 0 3-4 3, Brooke Saxon 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 15-22.
3-point goals – Live Oak (none); Albany 2 (Woods 2). Total fouls: Live Oak 19, Albany 18. Fouled out: Miles. Records: Live Oak 7-2, Albany 6-2. Up next: Albany vs. Doyle, Saturday 9 a.m.; Live Oak vs. Denham Springs, Friday 3 p.m.