Lady 'Canes, Kittens clash
By Tom Dodge
LEBEAU - Faith, toughness and determination. But the greatest of these is faith.
Those are the three attributes that North Central head coach Vanessa Taylor credited for lifting her Lady Hurricanes to the state quarterfinals.
With North Central trailing 60-59 in the last 10 seconds, Donisha Durriseau hit two free throws to lift the Lady Hurricanes to the 61-60 double-overtime road win over Block.
"It was a miracle because we shouldn't have won the game," Taylor said as the Lady Hurricanes were down in the closing seconds of both overtime periods.
"I watched the girls get stronger in the second overtime as the whole team quoted the Scripture 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,'" Taylor said. "They started capitalizing on that Scripture and that was the only way they were able to finish that game."
North Central entertains Southern Lab at 7 p.m. tonight in Lebeau.
"We want to get to the state championship but we have to look out for Southern Lab," Taylor said of her girls' attitude. "That has never crossed their minds.
"They are just another team we have to play."
Taylor scouted the Lady Kittens (13-5, second place in District 7) in Southern Lab's 48-44 loss to Christian Life in the district tiebreaker.
"I saw some things we can do and some things we can't do," Taylor said yet not revealing her game plan. "We are not intimidated by them. They are beatable."
Southern Lab defeated White Castle (73-41) and Crescent City (46-40) to advance to tonight's showdown with the Lady Hurricanes.
North Central began the playoffs with a 60-39 win over Dunham (third place team in District 7), but then held off Block (second place team in District 3) in the double- overtime road thriller.
"We made some key mistakes and a lot of fouls were called to send them to the free throw line," Taylor said of the fourth quarter that allowed the game to go into overtime.
"They have to keep their faith, be tough and be determined," Taylor said of her team. "They have to be focused and continue to fight if they want to finish."
Of the six local teams that opened the playoffs on Feb. 16, North Central is the only team to advance to the state quarterfinals.
"They are used to not being respected because they come from a small school," Taylor said of her program.
"A lot of time we have people who doubt what we can do."
Taylor said some detractors slight the Lady Hurricanes' No. 2 ranking in Class 1-A, "because we haven't played any body."
The North Central head coach defended her schedule by pointing out the Lady Hurricanes always play bigger classification teams in the parish including Opelousas High, Northwest, Beau Chene and Eunice.
Taylor said Southern Lab will face her Lady Hurricane starting five that is starting to play well.
"Everyone was in double figures Monday except for Tasha (Tanner) who has been averaging 17 points a game," the coach pointed out.
"Val Harris (12 points) played really well and stepped it up. Daraneisha Joseph has been a delightful surprise (10 points) and Appolonia Chambers scored 15 points against Block."
Durriseau finished with 17 points, including the crucial last two at the charity stripe.
If North Central wins tonight, the Lady Hurricanes would face the Oak Grove/Mangham winner in the semifinals.
The Sweet 16 will be held Feb. 27 - March 4 at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.
The Lady Hurricanes advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2002, but fell 74-32 to eventual Class 2-A champion St. Frederick.
Southern Lab fell in the quarterfinals last year to Vermilion Catholic (52-32) and won the 2004 Class 1-A state title with a 67-57 win over Plain Dealing.
North Central fell to Iota 69-37 in the 2-A regionals last year.
Originally published February 23, 2006