MAUREPAS – Albany guard Camryn Woods felt the Lady Hornets had a point to prove.
Despite a winning record and six-game win streak, Albany found itself seeded one notch below Holden, the two-time defending Livingston Parish champion.
Woods was part of an aggressive full-court pressing defense that enabled Albany force a bushel of turnovers and serve as the catalyst in a 69-51 victory Tuesday over Holden in a first-round game at Maurepas High School.
“We wanted to show that we were the better team,” Woods said. “Going into this the parish (coaches) thought we weren’t the better team. That got under our skin, so we wanted to prove that we were better than them.”
Fifth-seeded Albany (8-2) advances to quarterfinal action at 6 p.m. Friday.
Woods scored 15 of her game-high 25 points in the opening half, while Layla D’Fonseca and Brookelynn Saxon each added 11 apiece.
Fourth-seeded Holden (3-7) faces Maurepas in consolation action at 3 p.m. Thursday.
“They were successful at that,” Holden co-coach Pam Forbes said of Albany’s defense which forced 33 turnovers, including 18 in opening half. “I thought we had a good game plan and we didn’t execute it like we wanted to.
“Our plan was to run the floor, to work the ball in, use some time and get a good shot,” Forbes said. “What we did was walk the ball down the floor and put up some quick shots.”
Albany trailed for less than a minute, unleashing its full-court pressure from the beginning that not only yielded a high number of turnovers, but limited Holden to 33 percent shooting (20 of 55) shooting from the field.
“That’s what we do,” Albany coach Stacy Darouse said. “We try and put as much pressure on the ball, so they can’t see the open player down the floor in the half-court offense.”
Albany stretched a 17-10 first-quarter lead into a 36-20 halftime edge with Woods scoring eight of her team’s 19 points in the second quarter, capped by a pull-up 12-foot jumper with 52 seconds to play.
The Lady Hornets, who were leading by 15 points (44-29) put the game away during a 30-second span of the third quarter with three consecutive field goals, two of which were products of their full-court pressure.
D’Fonseca’s drive began that stretch which also included lay-ins from Saxon and Honour Johnson to help increase Albany’s lead to 50-29 with 2:30 showing the quarter.
“On defense, their guards were quick, and we had problems finding them,” Forbes said. “When we helped off, then we had problems in the post area.”
The focus of Albany’s half-court defense was Holden’s Jaycee Hughes, who found the going difficult against an array of defenders that included four different players over the course of the game.
Hughes, who was limited to five points in the first half, finished with a team-high 16. Emma Hutchinson added nine and Cambree Courtney seven.
“That’s our mindset, that defense wins championships,” Woods said. “Our offense comes from our defense. We’re always up in their grill and not backing off. That’s how we get out offense.”
Holden’s defense, which limited Albany to 36 percent shooting (23 of 63) was responsible for forcing 27 turnovers.
Darouse was forced to call a timeout with 2:38 to play after the Lady Rockets rattled off a 6-0 run to get within 65-49.
“Any win you get in the Livingston Parish Tournament, you enjoy it,” Darouse said. “It doesn’t get any easier. We’re going to do the best that we can and let the chips fall where they may and see what happens.”