Womack leads Ponchatoula to Class 5A girls basketball title in double overtime thriller over Parkway
It always nice to play at home, particularly in the biggest game of the season.
For Ponchatoula, it was not a home game but it was as close to one as the Lady Wave could have hoped for, playing in neighboring Hammond at University Center on the Southeastern Louisiana campus.
With a huge crowd of Green Wave fans on hand and extremely vocal throughout, the fourth-seeded Lady Wave seized the moment, feeding off the inspiration, upsetting No. 2 Parkway 80-79 in double overtime before a large enthusiastic, frenzied, partisan Green Wave crowd.
It was an instant classic, one of the best games in recent memory at any state championship game, boys or girls.
The most prominent Green Wave player who will soon be a Green Wave player on the next level came through in the clutch.
Tulane signee Jaylee Womack sank a jumper with 16 seconds left in double overtime to provide the margin of victory.
Mikaylah Williams, the top junior in the nation, had put Parkway on top with a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left at 79-78, missed a shot that could have won it and Womack rebounded it and held on until the clock ran out. Ponchatoula rebounded and had a tremendous victory.
The win avenged a regular season loss.
The Lady Panthers handled Ponchatoula 50-35 on Dec. 27 in Monroe. In Hammond, it was a totally different game.
Ponchatoula (35-2) was determined to take Williams, the top-ranked junior in the nation, out of the Parkway offense.
In the first half, the plan worked perfectly as the Lady Wave played man defense on Williams while zoning everyone else and doubling Williams whenever she caught the ball.
The first quarter saw both teams play stout defense while both struggled offensively, combining for 13 turnovers. Parkway (32-2) jumped to a 4-0 lead and led 8-4 before the Lady Wave closed the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 10-8 lead.
The second quarter began with five lead changes before Ponchatoula went on an 8-0 run to take a 22-16 lead and the Lady Wave closed on an 8-2 run to take a 30-22 lead at halftime.
Junior Taylor Jackson was terrific, scoring 18 points with four rebounds and three steals.
Williams, who averages 24 points per game, was held to just four points, on a field goal and two free throws, in the half.
Conversely, Tulane signee Jaylee Womack of Ponchatoula, who averages 28 points per game, was held to just six points in the half.
Amazingly, there were only three fouls whistled in the half.
Parkway (32-2) came out and dominated the third quarter, forcing seven Ponchatoula turnovers and turning them into offense as the Lady Panthers outscored the Lady Wave 21-10. Sophomore Chloe Larry scored 14 points in the quarter to propel the Lady Panthers to a 43-40 lead going to the final quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Parkway held a 60-55 with a minute left but Womack would not let the Green Wave lose.
First, she scored to cut the deficit to three points on a jumper with 1:03 to play and then she swished a 3-pointer from 24-feet out from the top of the key to send the game to overtime.
In the first overtime, Ponchatoula built a 68-63 lead but Parkway stormed back as Larry scored on a layup and then calmly sank three free to send it into a second overtime.
The 3-pointer to force overtime was the only one Womack made in nine attempts. She struggled from the field much of the way until the game was on the line, scoring 19 of her 32 points in the fourth quarter and the two overtime periods. Womack was a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line and she pulled down five rebounds and had three steals.
Jackson finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and four steals while Libby Thompson scored 11 points with seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
Larry scored a game-high 34 points, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. Larry added nine rebounds and three steals. Williams scored 23 points with eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks despite going just 5 of 20 from the field. Williams was 11 of 12 from the free throw line.
The Panthers were terrific from the free throw line, making 26 of 30 attempts while the Green Wave were good as well, sinking 19 of 25 from the line.
Ponchatoula flipped the script of its previous two seasons when the Green Wave lost in the semifinals to Ouachita Parish and Benton, respectively, after beating each of those teams in the regular season. This time, the Lady Wave lost the regular season matchup but won the game that counted most against the talented Lady Panthers.
It is the second state championship for Ponchatoula coach Patricia Landaiche, who led the Lady Wave to the Class 5A championship in 2015.
Ponchatoula 10 20 10 22 11 8 80
Parkway 8 14 21 19 11 7 79
Ponchatoula—Jaylee Womack 32, Taylor Jackson 24, Libby Thompson 11, Presley Walls 9, Amaya Gervais 4
Parkway—Chloe Larry 34, Mikaylah Williams 23, Tylissa Henderson 6, Savannah Wilson 6, Aniya Russel 5, Makenna Miles 5
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…