Warren Easton honed in on St. Thomas More

Eagles remember well lopsided loss to Cougars in last year’s quarterfinals

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZWarren Easton's Jeremica Edwards drives past Broadmoor's Honchea Thornton, left, and Mikayla Crockett in a Class 4A regional playoff game last week.
Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZWarren Easton's Jeremica Edwards drives past Broadmoor's Honchea Thornton, left, and Mikayla Crockett in a Class 4A regional playoff game last week.

NEW ORLEANS — Warren Easton trailed St. Thomas More by more than 20 points during the final minute of last season’s Class 4A girls basketball quarterfinals.

Still, St. Thomas More conducted a full-court press, one of several moments Easton never forgot during a 72-45 loss to the eventual state champions.

“It added fuel to our fire,” said Easton senior forward Jeremica Edwards. “When we lost, we thought we were one of the best teams.”

On Friday, top-seeded Easton (34-2) will face fifth-seeded St. Thomas More (29-5), the defending state champions, in The Advocate/LHSAA Top 28 Southeast Regional semifinal at Southeastern’s University Center in Hammond. Tip-off is 6:15 p.m.

Also at Southeastern, Kolby Morgan leads fourth-seeded John Curtis (23-7), the defending Class 2A champions, against top-seeded University Lab (30-6) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The two teams played in a 2A semifinal last season.

Fourth-seeded Curtis is coming off a 62-51 win against 12th-seeded Lake Arthur.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Curtis coach Barbara Farris said. “I think we prepared to put ourselves in this position all season. We definitely need to step up our defensive intensity and bring it full circle.”

Top-seeded West St. John will play fourth-seeded Central Catholic at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in Class 1A. Led by senior guard Jaylyn Gordon, a University of Louisiana-Lafayette signee,

West St. John has won 18 consecutive games, including Monday’s 60-46 quarterfinal win over Franklin. At Easton, the Eagles have prepared for a playoff rematch with St. Thomas More all season. After all, Easton is still running extra laps after practice.

Why coach?

Because you lost to St. Thomas More.

“They didn’t hit the brakes at all,” said Easton guard Lawriell Wilson, a junior. “I feel like when we play them, we’re not going to stop.”

Easton’s loss to St. Thomas More has helped the Eagles become a 4A powerhouse. Mimms and the Eagles learned what a championship team looks like, a look they want to mimic.

They watched how St. Thomas More’s players conducted themselves like champions, how they played together, and with charisma and swagger. How they paid attention to details, kept their composure. Even how STM, got to loose balls, made free throws.

These are all traits Mimms has tried to pass to the Eagles, who are seeking to become the first New Orleans public school to win a state championship in girls basketball in the state tournament era, which started in 1963.

On Jan. 19, Easton did get some measure of revenge when it beat STM 50-35.

But, this is the playoffs.

“I know a good program when I see it,” Mims said of St. Thomas More. “Now, it’s not the same coaching staff, but my girls don’t need to know that. All they need to know is that’s St. Thomas More, and that’s the same school that had us crying last year.

“Our motivation is after this game on Friday, we don’t want to be crying. And if we are, we’re going to be crying happy tears.”