LAFAYETTE – The Minden Lady Tiders made the long drive to Lafayette for their first-round playoff game against the Carencro Lady Bears.
The Lady Tiders (19-12, 5-5) fought hard to keep their season alive and earn a home game for round two, but the Lady Bears had too much firepower and won going away, 70-53.
Lady Tider head coach Jacob Brown was emotional in breaking down the season-ending loss.
“We anticipated some full-court pressure and a variety of other defenses from them,” Brown said. “We got pretty much what we expected. We had some turnover issues early in the game and Carencro hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter.”
The Lady Tiders’ turnover issue became severe in the second quarter, as Carencro went on a 15-0 run despite a pair of timeouts called by Brown to try and slow the Lady Bears shooting barage.
“We knew they were going to keep shooting it,” Brown said. “But we wanted to run and play with a purpose. They got us out of our game and got the tempo in their favor. We got down pretty big at 36-17.”
Minden began pressing Carencro on defense with good results, going on a run to cut the lead to 38-24 after being down by 19 points moments earlier.
Carencro led at the half, 40-24.
“To me, the story of that half was we were 3-10 from the free-throw line and had 17 turnovers, several of which were converted into points,” Brown said. “We told the girls we wanted to just chip away. Cut that lead in half. I saw our girls play their hearts out in the second half.”
The Lady Tiders outscored the Lady Bears 19-18 in the third quarter. Everytime Minden would make a run, Carencro had the answer.
Trailing 55-43 and playing pretty well, Carencro hit a back-breaking 3-pointer to push the lead back to 15.
“Our girls kept competing,” Brown said. “Diving on the floor for loose balls, pouring their hearts out to try and scract and claw their way back into the ball game. I think we got the lead down to nine with six minutes to go.”
But the Lady Tiders couldn’t get all the way back, falling 70-53.
Senior Tiaga Pugh led the team in her final game with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Strawberry Batton had 17 points as well, playing through foul trouble most of the way. Senior Marlena Hill had 14 points and 11 rebounds in her final outing, playing what Brown said was, “the best game of her season.”
“For all these girls, tonight was their first experience in a playoff game,” Brown said. “I hope this was an experience our senior will cherish and they realize we had a good run this season.
For our younger girls, they see what it’s about now. I think it will carry over into our offseason work and hopefully we can grow and build off what we’ve done this year.”
Brown said despite the loss, he enjoyed the road trip with a group of girls he characterized as, “special.”
“When you know your kids went out their and gave everything they had, you have no regrets,” Brown said. “These girls are a family and they represented Minden with class. They’re champions in my eyes.”