MORGAN CITY — Just because the District 8-1A title already had been decided didn’t mean Monday night’s district finale between Central Catholic and Vermilion Catholic wasn’t important.
It was quite the contrary as both teams make their last possible moves in a battle for playoff seeding.
And just like they had on the road, the Central Catholic Lady Eagles, the No. 4-ranked team in Class 1A according to the latest unofficial power rankings released by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, came out on top with a 42-35 victory against second-ranked Vermilion Catholic.
Like the first, game, the second one wasn’t firmly in hand until late in the fourth quarter.
And unlike the first one, Vermilion Catholic defense, along with an off shooting night, limited Central Catholic’s Meo Knight.
The junior standout, who records double-doubles with ease, still had a solid night but was “limited” to eight points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. However, all but one bucket came from the free throw line, where Knight finished 6-for-6. She was 1-for-11 from the field.
While fellow junior Randi Brown led Central Catholic with 17 points and 11 rebounds as well as two assists, two steals and two blocks, it was the contributions of two seniors that helped the Lady Eagles in some key situations.
Leading 23-18 with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter and Knight out of the game with her third foul, Abbie Bergeron connected on a shot for a 25-18 Central Catholic advantage.
Bergeron again connected later in the quarter on a three-pointer for a 28-20 Central Catholic advantage.
While Vermilion Catholic trimmed the lead to 28-23 on Kaylen Collins’ three-point play with 2:33 remaining in the quarter, buckets by Caroline Byrne and Bergeron, after Byrne kicked it out to her, gave the Lady Eagles their largest lead of the night at 32-23 with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter in what had been a tight contest.
“Playing team ball, I think that’s the best kind,” Byrne said. “It’s really good to know that everybody works together. It’s not just Randi and Meo anymore. It’s all of us can help out. When they’re in trouble, they can look to us. … That’s really good.”
Bergeron had similar feelings.
“Randi and Meo are really big parts of the team just like Makayla (McDaniel), but we all got to play our part in it somewhere because they can’t do it on their own,” Bergeron said.
Central Catholic coach Jamarr Garrett says he wants to see Byrne and Bergeron continue to take shots in ball games, noting that most teams focus their attention on Knight and Brown.
He said the contributions by others shows that, while Knight and Brown dominate the stat lines, they are not the entire team.
Despite the nine-point deficit, Vermilion Catholic wasn’t done. Vermilion Catholic used a 7-2 run through the rest of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth to cut the deficit to 34-30 following Katie Frith’s bucket with 4:15 remaining in the contest. While she was fouled on the play, Frith could not connect to further cut into the Central Catholic advantage.
After Central Catholic had again extended its lead to 39-30, Vermilion Catholic again rallied as Ashailee Brailey connected on a trey with about 1:30 left, while her putback about 30 seconds later cut the Central Catholic deficit to 39-35 with less than a minute to play.
However, Brown hit three of four free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Garrett said the game was a big one in terms of power rankings, but he also expressed that his squad needed to put teams away when they have the opportunity.
Vermilion Catholic coach Kim Guidry said she thought the game was a good one for her squad to play as a playoff tuneup.
“CC’s a well-coached and very athletic group, so it only makes us better to play them. … I told my kids I thought we did better this time than when they came to us,” Guidry said. “We just couldn’t capitalize on a few times we had the ball and couldn’t score. You go make a stop and then you don’t turn it into points, then we’re back to where we started.”
In the first half, both teams struggled to make shots as Central Catholic jumped out to an 8-4 lead after a period of play. All of Vermilion Catholic’s points came from the free throw line in the initial stanza, while half of Central Catholic’s came from the charity stripe.
Vermilion Catholic got its first field goal with about 5:36 remaining in the second quarter as it outscored Central Catholic 9-6 in the period.
Vermilion Catholic nearly took the lead into halftime but a missed layup at the end of the first half following a Central Catholic turnover left Central Catholic with a slim 14-13 lead.
Other top contributors for Central Catholic included Bergeron, eight points and two steals; Bryne, five points and one steal; and Megan Landry, four points, one steal and a rebound.
Both Central Catholic and Vermilion Catholic now will await their seeding in the Class 1A playoffs. Brackets will be released Thursday.
Patterson falls to Erath
The Patterson Lumberjills dropped their final game of the season, 65-26, to Erath.
No individual statistics were available for the Lumberjills in the District 9-3A contest.
Patterson finishes its season with an overall mark of 4-17 and a district record of 3-9.