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Local Athletes Help Lead Belles To First State Title

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / June 24, 1998

BATON ROUGE – Three local athletes recently helped the Southern Belles Under 12 AAU make history.

Elise Tatje, Alicia Hall and Erin Keller helped lead the Belles to a 57-34 victory over the Kenner Angels in the state 12 and under championship game held at St. Joseph Elementary School in Baton Rouge. It was the firststate title for the Belles in their six-year history and the first time the Angels have lost in the state championships. The Belles’ next stop is thenational championships in Nashville July 16-25.

The Belles entered the state championship as the number two seed after finishing second last year. The team rolled through the opening rounds,defeating the Louisiana Future Stars and Baton Rouge Lady Tigers. Atougher time came against the Monroe Tigers but the Belles still came away with the win by more than 20 points.

That victory set up a match up in the winners bracket between the Belles and the Angels. The Belles came away with an 11-point victory, puttingthem in the championship bracket of the double elimination bracket. TheAngels battled their way back to the championship round, setting up a rematch for the championship.

In the championship game, Kenner jumped out to a 15-2 lead in the first half. The Belles kept their composure, battling back to take a 23-20 leadat the end of the first half. The Belles then owned the second half, as theirhalf court defense and traps helped them open up their lead.

“The girls played well and played with composure,” Southern Belles coach Sidney Lawrence said. “They could have folded but they never gave up.”Lawrence said Keller played really well in her first year with the program, coming on and making 10 straight free throws down the stretch in the championship game. Tatje came up with a number of big stealstoward the end of the game and Hall was dominant on the boards, according to Lawrence.

The Belles are made up of players from around the New Orleans area, from St. Bernard Parish to the River Parishes. Lawrence said the team’sstrengths are its size and the play of its defense at pressuring the other teams. Another strength is the togetherness of the team.”They have jelled and have come together as one complete team,” Lawrence said.

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