West New Orleans Pride takes AAU title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 23, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / June 23, 1999

RESERVE – The West New Orleans Pride capped off a competitive 14-year- old girls’ AAU state tournament with a 56-52 victory over the Louisiana Shooting Stars in the championship game at Reserve Christian Sunday evening.

Both teams now advance to the AAU national championships in Virginia Beach, Va. The teams that competed in the tournament qualified for theNICAAU tournament in Memphis.

The Pride had defeated the Shooting Stars in the semifinals Saturday night to advance to the title game. The Shooting Stars had bounced back todefeat the New Orleans Dominos A Team Sunday in the loser’s bracket to set up the rematch with the Pride. The Shooting Stars would have had todefeat the Pride twice Sunday to win the championship.

In Sunday”s championship, the Pride jumped out on top, 4-2. The ShootingStars came back, taking the biggest lead of the first half at 10-6 on a jumper by Mallory Worsham from the right baseline.

The Pride then tied the game at 10 on a jumper by Dannie Hollands. Thelead continued to seesaw with neither team taking more than a three- point lead the remainder of the half.

A drive and a foul gave the Pride a 21-18 advantage. Two free throws byJenna Thomas tied the game at 22. Jumpers by Worsham and Crystal Ganttgave the Shooting Stars a 30-28 lead with 41.9 seconds left in the firsthalf.

A free throw by Alicia Rhymes made it a three-point game before the Pride scored at the buzzer to make it 31-30 at the break.

The Shooting Stars built that lead to three on its first possession as Crystal Smith drove in.

A 3-pointer from the top of the circle tied the game at 34. West NewOrleans went ahead on its next possession with a driving layup, giving the Pride the lead at 36-34.

Two possessions later, Jessica Helgeson knocked down a jumper in the lane. A steal and two passes downcourt increased the lead to 40-34.The Shooting Stars came back to pull to within a basket on a scoop by Rhymes and a jumper in the lane by Thomas. After Helgeson and Rhymestraded free throws, a drive and a free throw built the lead back to 45-40.

Two free throws by Thomas and a pass from Gantt to Worsham underneath brought the Shooting Stars to within one with 9:09 remaining.

Both teams would go scoreless over the next three minutes until the Pride scored on a free throw. Two possessions later, Worsham rebounded herown miss and put it back, tying the game at 46.

A running jumper by Hollands put the Pride back ahead on their next possession. Hollands then scored inside, making it a four-point game. Apass to Helgeson inside gave the Pride a 54-48 lead going into the final minute.

A put back by Worsham brought the Shooting Stars to within four with 24 seconds left. But the Pride were able to keep the Shooting Stars with freethrows by Hollands offsetting a drive by Rhymes.

The Pride, coached by Otis Hixon, had opened the tournament with a victory over the Louisiana Ladies before defeating the Acadian Stars. Avictory over the Baton Rouge Lady Tigers set up the first game against the Shooting Stars.

The Shooting Stars, coached by Rick Jones, had opened up with a victory over the Louisiana Amazons. A victory over the host Southern Bellespreceded the Shooting Stars’ first victory over the Dominos in the tournament.

The Belles bounced back from the loss to the Shooting Stars to defeat St.

Bernard in the loser”s bracket before being eliminated. The Belles, coachedby Chris Oufnac, now advance to the NICAAU national championships in Memphis.

The tournament was the first AAU championship to be held in St. JohnParish and attracted teams from around the state. Games were played atReserve Christian and St. Charles Catholic High School. It was the fourthtime the Belles had hosted the tournament.

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