DENHAM SPRINGS – The look on the face of Denham Springs High’s Kate Thompson spoke volumes.
With the Lady Jackets falling farther behind University High in Wednesday’s non-district game, Thompson was subbed out of the game late in the fourth quarter, acknowledged her teammates and walked to the end of the bench.
She never sat the remainder of the game, standing in disbelief while University went on to a 66-39 victory Wednesday at Grady Hornsby Gymnasium to hand the Lady Jackets their fifth straight setback.
“We knew with the teams we were playing it was going to be tough,” Denham Springs coach Blake Zito said. “We hoped to win a couple of those games, but we haven’t found a way to win. We had a couple of opportunities in some games slip through our fingers and (subpar) effort in other games.”
Denham Springs (12-8) reached a preseason goal of trying to win at least 10 games by Jan. 1.
The Lady Jackets had also risen to No. 2 in the LHSAA’s unofficial Class 5A power rankings, a sign they had positioned themselves accordingly to that juncture of the season.
Since an 11-point road win at St. Joseph’s Academy, Denham Springs hasn’t had much reason to celebrate the start of the New Year – a stretch that includes home losses to Doyle, Lee Magnet and U-High along with road setbacks against South Lafourche and Madison Prep.
“If you looked at us at the beginning of the season, you’d think we were on the right track,” Zito said. “Right now, you could say it looks like we’re going backward. Part of that is on us, part of that is who we’re playing. It doesn’t look like we’re on an uptick, getting ready for district or some tough games that we have coming up.”
The latest obstacle for a team that’s fallen to No. 13 in the latest power ratings was a game that was tied three times in the first 12 minutes before the bottom started to fall out.
Guard Kennedy King made the first of her three 3-pointers to make it 14-14 when University scored seven straight points and finished the quarter on a 14-4 run to make it 28-18 at halftime.
Trenishia Muse’s layup and Thompson’s basket on an assist from King kept Denham Springs within 21-18 at 2:24 to play before U-High reeled off seven unanswered points.
The last four points came off back-to-back turnovers in which DSHS turned the ball over 10 times in the second quarter, 14 in the first half and 20 for the game.
“If teams are going to do junk stuff, trap us and try and get us out of what we do, we need to be strong with the ball and make extra passes,” Zito said. “I thought we got frustrated and tried to do things ourselves instead of making the extra pass.”
Muse and Thompson both scored 10 points and King added nine for Denham Springs which shot 29% (13 of 44) for the game.
U-High, which was led by Sahvani Sancho’s 19 and Nya Miller’s 18, made six of its first eight shots in the third quarter, while Denham Springs was limited to four points over the first four minutes and trailed the Cubs, 39-23.
King made a pair of 3-pointers and Muse added a basket that enabled the Lady Jackets to get as close as 43-33.
U-High put the game out of reach with an 18-0 run over a six-minute span that made it 64-35 with 1:52 remaining. During that stretch the Lady Jackets missed 11 consecutive field goal attempts until Carly Cruise’s 3-pointer and wound up 1-of-14 in the fourth quarter.
“I tip my hat to the girls in the locker room,” Zito said. “They’re definitely a team. One thing I’m proud of is they’ve learned to respect each other. They get along. I think they need to play harder for each other.
“District’s coming and Zachary’s one of best teams in the state,” Zito said. “It’s not going to be easy. We don’t have any easy games from here on out. We’ve got to show up. We’ve got do a better job at practice and I’ve got to do a better job preparing them.”