Friday, April 19, 2024

High school girls basketball: Parkway takes on No. 1 Walker for spot in title game

by Russell Hedges
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The Parkway Lady Panthers will be looking to advance to the state championship game for the third straight year Thursday.

Standing in their way is No. 1 seed Walker. The No. 5 seed Lady Panthers (29-6) face the Lady Wildcats (35-1) in the non-select Division I semifinals at 6:15 p.m. at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center in Hammond.

Last year, Walker was also the No. 1 seed but most considered 2022 Class 5A runner-up Parkway the favorite.

The Lady Panthers didn’t disappoint, winning four playoff games by an average of 34.5 points. The state title was the first in girls basketball in school history.

Walker, meanwhile, was upset by No. 5 Ponchatoula 52-47 in the semifinals.

Walker returns several players off that team. According to MaxPreps, seniors Jamiya Vann and Kennedi Ard lead the Lady Wildcats in scoring at 14.5 and 14.1 points per game, respectively.

Vann is a guard and Ard is a 5-foot-9 forward.

Parkway is led by the one-two punch of senior Chloe Larry and junior Dakota Howard. Larry scored 33 in the Lady Panthers’ 58-49 victory over St. Amant in the quarterfinals last week. Howard had 30 in a 74-45 second-round victory over Northshore.

Savannah Wilson, Zara Baker, Khia Thomas and Jayla James have all contributed to Parkway’s success.

Parkway is back in Hammond despite losing five players who signed with colleges last year, including current LSU freshman standout Mikaylah Williams.

Walker received a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Lady Wildcats defeated No. 17 Fontainebleau 71-18 in the second round and No. 8 Haughton 74-33 in the second.

Walker has won 33 in a row since falling to Texas power Duncanville 75-47 in the third game of the season.

The Lady Wildcats’ closest game against a Louisiana team was 57-53 over Mandeville on Dec. 14. Walker defeated District foe St. Amant 56-39 on Jan. 15 and 81-45 on Feb. 6.

Parkway has won 16 in a row. The Lady Panthers’ closet game during that stretch was a 64-62 victory over Natchitoches Central on Jan. 19.

The Parkway-Walker winner faces the winner of the other semifinal between No. 2 Denham Springs (28-4) and No. 3 Mandeville (30-5) at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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