Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sports Editor

To say St. Charles struggled a season ago with eventual District 9-3A champion Plaquemine would be putting it mildly. The Green Devils outscored the Comets 135-77 over two games last season – SCC didn’t outscore Plaquemine in even one quarter in 2008.

New year. New Comets.

St. Charles now stands at 2-0 in district play after a 42-37 victory over Plaquemine on Friday night in LaPlace.

Brooke Becker scored 26 points and Kacie Braud added 10 to lead the Comets (15-10), who after defeating Port Allen last Tuesday now hold district victories over not only two teams that swept SCC a season ago, but the teams that finished first and second in 9-3A.

“I’m so excited,” said Becker. “It puts us in great position to win district. I don’t remember the last time we’ve won a district title here. I’m not sure that it’s ever happened (at SCC).”

A postgame celebration by the home team seemed unlikely at the beginning of the game. Plaquemine (9-15, 1-1) cashed in on a flurry of St. Charles turnovers to jump ahead 10-2, and the Green Devils looked primed to take a third straight blowout victory over the Comets.

“They ran us out of the gym twice last season,” said Becker. “I think they came in confident that they were going to beat us again. But we really want to show teams what we’re all about this year.”

Braud hit a jumper to get the Comets back on track, and she and Becker combined to score eight straight Comet points to tie the score.

From that point through the end of the third quarter, four points represented the biggest lead by either team, and the score was tied seven times. St. Charles led 29-27 entering the fourth quarter, where it would finally build some wiggle room.

Heather Orillion got the Comets started by hitting a free throw to make it 30-27. Then Becker twice drove into the lane and found Braud for short jumpers, serving to give SCC a 34-27 lead – its biggest of the night to that point – with 4:48 left in the game.

“Kacie Braud made a difference. There’s a freshman stepping up for you, and that’s big,” said St. Charles Coach Nolan Louque. “When (Becker) didn’t have the shot, she dished it off and found somebody to make a play. That really tells the tale of what a complete player Brooke is.”

After a Jaymie Remondet score put SCC up 36-28, Plaquemine started to push its way back. The Green Devils’ Brittany Brown scored her team’s next five points to make it 36-33 with 1:28 left.

Becker canned two foul shots, but Brown came up with another bucket underneath to make it a three-point game. Becker answered right back with a bucket at the other end with less than a minute remaining.

With 21 seconds left, Brown got to the line one more time and made two free throws. The Comets inbounded the ball to Becker, who made it across halfcourt. She was shoved to the floor while dribbling out the clock, and an intentional foul was called with 11-seconds left, giving St. Charles two free throws and the ball – and effectively sealing the win.

“The girls’ confidence is starting to show,” said Louque. “When you come into this district, you know you’ve got the big guns from Baton Rouge to worry about. But I feel like we’re peaking at the right time.”

Becker agrees, but says there’s still a long way to go.

“I feel so happy (about the win). We can’t let it go to our heads. But I’m so proud of everyone. We played so hard tonight.”