Lakeview girls hold off Oak Grove, head to state championship game Friday

For years it’s been the Lakeview boys’ basketball team contending for state championships. Friday, the Lady Gators get their turn.

Girls basketball north of the Red River in Natchitoches Parish has plenty of championship-level history, and the Lakeview girls added to it Tuesday with a 36-30 state semifinal win over Oak Grove at the University Center in Hammond.

Lakeview (24-3) will square off Friday at noon against Oakdale for the Division IV Non-Select state crown at the 2023 Ochsner’s LHSAA Marsh Madness Tournament. Oakdale (17-12) edged Arcadia 47-46 Monday on a banked-in 3-point buzzer-beater.

The Lakeview-Oak Grove contest was a defensive struggle, with the teams combining for 22 steals, 10 by Lakeview. There were 37 turnovers, 21 by Lakeview.

The Lady Gators had a slightly better shooting percentage, 33 percent (13-39) to 25 percent (10-40) than the losers, who had a 38-28 rebounding advantage.

Timberlyn Washington set the scoring pace for Lakeview with 19 points. Trinity Browder had eight points and eight rebounds while Janiya Armstrong scored seven and Sa’Niyah Marshall two in a game where every point mattered.

The Lady Gators moved on top 10-5 after one quarter and were up 16-10 at halftime. The teams each scored 20 points in the final two periods, and Lakeview held off every challenge from the Lady Tigers, who were led by their 6-foot-5 eighth-grader, Caroline Bradley (16 points, 16 rebounds).

Oak Grove drew within 27-25 with 2:25 left to play, but Lakeview doubled the lead 40 seconds later. Oak Grove again moved within one possession at 30-27 with 52 seconds left, but 12 seconds later, Trinity Browder calmly drained two free throws for a 32-27 advantage and Oak Grove was unable to score again until the final seconds.

Meanwhile, Washington iced it by making a steal and driving for a layup, drawing a foul and converting a three-point play with 21 seconds left for an insurmountable 35-27 advantage.

Oak Grove finished the season with a 19-4 record.