Ouachita Christian's senior class finally gets to celebrate first LHSAA state championship
HAMMOND — Ouachita Christian ended three years of frustration at Marsh Madness on Thursday.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL:Ouachita Christian pulls away from Highland Baptist for first LHSAA girls basketball title
The Lady Eagles defeated Highland Baptist 61-40 to win the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Division IV state championship in girls basketball for the first time in school history at the University Center in Hammond on Thursday.
OCS’s championship comes after three years of falling short at the state tournament. In 2019, the Lady Eagles lost in semifinals. In 2020, they went 35-1 and lost 53-50 in the championship game to St. Mary’s.
OCS coach Stan Humphries said the Lady Eagles have been determined all season long.
“When COVID came through, we hoped and prayed that we would get this season in because of these girls,” Humphries said. “Our motto has been finish. We’ve hung it on our wall in our gym. We wore it on our wristbands. We wanted to finish this time and these girls did that. I’m just proud of them for finishing the way they did this whole year.”
The Lady Eagles (28-2) were led by five seniors, who have all started together since their sophomore years, including Emily Branch, Allison Reppond, Conleigh Laseter, Emery Wirtz and Carley Teekell.
“It’s a tribute to the work that these seniors and all the girls have put in,” Humphries said. “To be in the state semifinals, state runner-up and now state championship in a four-year period is a credit to them.
“We’ve gone through a lot. We’ve had ACL injuries and back surgeries to get to this point but they gave me everything they’ve got. They have heart and soul. They just play hard. I tell them all the time good things happen if they just play hard sometimes. It’s a tribute to them, but I’m just excited for our school.”
Wirtz, who won the Most Outstanding Player Award after leading the Lady Eagles with 17 points, said it was exciting to finally celebrate a championship.
“This year we had a lot more motivation,” Wirtz said. “Having lost last year was probably one of the worst feelings. With a lot of us being seniors this year, we didn’t want to have a feeling like that again, especially with it being our last season. We just decided this whole year to give it our all.”
Humphries said his experienced players came through against Highland Baptist. They forced 22 turnovers and never let the Lady Bears find any rhythm.
“Because of our veteran leadership from our seniors and our juniors, the gameplan we put in was kind of what we’ve done all year,” Humphries said. “It was 32 minutes of pressure. We wanted to continue pushing. We pressured the guards so it wasn’t easy for them to pass it to anybody.”
Humphries, a former Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) quarterback who spent time in the NFL with Washington and San Diego, said the Lady Eagles will look back at their first championship 20 years from now and smile with pride.
“I told the ladies in the locker room that I won a national championship back (in 1987 with) Northeast Louisiana. I’ve been to two Super Bowls — won one and lost one. I told the ladies in the locker room that I think this is the most proud I’ve ever been and the best feeling that I ever had because you see somebody else put the work in.
"You want them to have the success. You want them to get the attention. I’ve had my time. It’s not about me. It’s about them. It’s a great building block for our school."