Friday, April 19, 2024

High school girls basketball: Parkway aims for back-to-back state titles

by Russell Hedges
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For the Parkway Lady Panthers, it was back to business Friday.

The Lady Panthers had to put Thursday’s stunning 64-63 overtime victory over No. 1 seed Walker behind them. Chloe Larry’s halfcourt shot at the overtime buzzer to win it was featured on Thursday’s midnight SportsCenter hosted by Scott Van Pelt. ESPN’s TikTok post of the shot had hundreds of thousands of views.

While that game will always be memorable, the Lady Panthers still have one more to play.

Parkway (30-6), the No. 5 seed, faces No. 2 Denham Springs (29-4) Saturday at 6 p.m. in the non-select Division I state championship game at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center in Hammond.

Denham Springs defeated No. 3 Mandeville 46-39 in the other semifinal.

The Lady Panthers have an opportunity to do something that’s very hard to do and that’s win back-to-back state titles.

And Parkway is back in the title game after losing four starters, including current LSU freshman Mikaylah Williams, off last season’s 30-5 team.

Larry is the lone returning starter. Dakota Howard, who had to sit out last season after transferring from Haughton, was a major addition to this year’s squad.

Parkway Head Coach Gloria Williams said Larry and Howard complement each other.

“They’re feeding off one another and just to have her a part of this program has been tremendous for us this season,” she said at the postgame press conference Thursday night.

Denham Springs finished second to Walker in District 4-5A. The Lady Jackets lost to Walker 71-38 in the regular-season finale. That ended an 11-game winning streak.

Denham Springs’ other losses were to Slidell 50-40 on Nov. 31, Walker 62-36 in a tournament on Dec. 9 and John Curtis Christian 47-45 on Dec. 21.

The Lady Jackets have had some tight games in the playoffs. They received a first-round bye then avenged the loss to No. 15 Slidell 58-53 in the second round. Denham Springs also lost to Slidell 47-46 in the first round of the 2022 Class 5A playoffs.

Denham Springs defeated No. 7 Ruston 52-46 in the quarterfinals.

Prai’ Nelson led the Lady Jackets with 12 points against Mandeville. Denham Springs put up 16 3-pointers and made four.

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