DENHAM SPRINGS — Guard Jena Mabile’s backcourt steal and layup helped seal the deal for the seventh-ranked Denham Springs girls basketball team Friday night.
Mabile’s heady play put DSHS up 51-47 with 1:10 remaining and the Yellow Jackets hit four straight free throws down the stretch to defeat Walker 55-47.
Juniors Mabile, Caletria Curtis and Carlisha Kinchen combined for 44 points as Denham Springs (22-5, 8-1) claimed the District 4-5A girls title with one league game remaining.
“This was a big win for us,” Denham Springs coach Shelly LaPrarie said. “It took every point and every possession to get this win. My kids battled. We were down early, but we got some steals and got back in it. That’s a sign of a good team when you can come back.”
Tenth-ranked Walker (22-8, 6-3) won the first district meeting 37-36 as the Wildcats forced turnovers with a variety of defense.
“The last time we played them we let the Walker press get us at the end,” LaPrarie said. “We worked hard on that in practice this week, and tonight we kept our composure against their defense and got our offense going.”
Curtis scored 20, Kinchen 18 and Mabile six to pace DSHS.
Denham Springs won the rebounding battle by a double-figure margin with Curtis and Kinchen leading the charge.
“Denham Springs killed us on the boards,” Walker coach Korey Arnold said. “We don’t have the talent and athletes to let people get two and three shots a possession. This was by far our worst game against Denham in three meetings. We’ve hung our hat on our defense all year long and we weren’t there tonight. It was embarrassing.”
Walker senior Mi’ca Lowe scored a game-high 22 points. She hit four 3-pointers in the game, including three in the first quarter as Walker led 15-10 after eight minutes.
Lowe picked up her third foul with 5:16 remaining in the first half and went to the bench with her team ahead 19-17.
Walker’s Jamie Gibson hit a layup with 4:48 remaining to put her team up 21-17. Denham Springs went on a 6-0 run to end the half and take a 23-21 lead.
There were four lead changes in the third quarter. On an inbound play from under the DSHS goal, Mabile passed to Curtis who scored from 10 feet with 6.9 seconds remaining as Denham led 39-37 after three quarters.
Lowe missed a 3-pointer, got her rebound and scored to cut the DSHS deficit to 45-43 with 4:13 remaining. Curtis scored Denham Springs’ next two baskets.
Lowe hit a free throw with 1:44 remaining to cut the DSHS lead to 49-47. Walker forced a turnover and had the ball looking to tie. That’s when Mabile made her steal and layup.
Megan Strange added 12 points for Walker.
Seven Denham Springs senior players were honored before the game. The seniors include Mary Beth Hughes (5 points), Katie Patterson, Emily Callender, Monique Jackson, Dre’Shanna Landry, Brianna Ensminger and Rachel Riley.