MONROE — Rayville High School had never won a state title in girls basketball during the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s state tournament era. The Hornets made sure they wouldn’t be denied by dominating every phase of the game.
Title-game Outstanding Player Thomasina Minor and Victoria Wilson each scored 17 points to help power Rayville to a 71-38 victory over Baker in the Class 3A girls basketball final that tipped off Thursday night’s action at the LHSAA/State Farm Top 28 Tournament.
“It feels wonderful to so something great for the little town of Rayville,” Minor said.
Rayville (26-5) came in as the No. 5 seed and took control in the opening minutes. The Hornets made 50 percent of their shots from the field (26-of-52), held a 51-34 rebounding edge and blocked 12 shots.
“These girls have really had a strong presence in this season,” said first-year RHS coach Amber Obaze-Ford, a former Louisiana Tech player. “I’m happy to bring the whole town together.
“I felt like the best thing we could do was speed the tempo up. As it went on, we backed up and settled in. Baker is a great team. We just happened to have a night when the seniors wanted it.”
Arielle Richardson added 11 points and La’Dencia Johnson tallied 10 points and a game-high 17 rebounds for Rayville in its first tourney appearance since 1995.
The game was a polar opposite for second-seeded Baker. The Buffaloes made 17.7 percent of their shots from the field (11-of-62) and scored in single digits in all but one quarter.
Anitra Whitfield led Baker (25-6) with 16 points, while Eugenea James added 10. It was Baker’s second runner-up finish in four years. The Buffaloes have won 102 games during that span.
“Rayville was what I expected,” Baker coach Michael Stephens Jr. said. “We tried to take away the inside game. The first couple of quarters, I thought we did an OK job on that, but they kept hitting outside shots.
“With them you have to pick their poison because they’re so long and athletic. We just got outplayed and outworked at the end of the day.”
Richardson and Minor took the lead roles early. James scored the game’s first basket for Baker. But the Buffaloes didn’t score again until four and half minutes later.
By that time, Rayville was building its lead.
Richardson scored the first six points for the Hornets. Minor scored seven straight points during one stretch to help RHS ride a 15-7 lead into the second quarter.
Rayville stretched its lead throughout the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Wilson made it 23-11 with 4:11 left.
The tally reached 28-11 before Jacquis Dodson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Baker, leaving RHS with a 28-14 advantage.
Rayville then outscored Baker 20-4 in the third quarter. Through three quarters the Hornets had 28 points in the paint and a 39-22 rebounding edge.
The Buffaloes battled and did score 20 fourth-quarter points. By then, the margin was much too large to overcome.