By Jim Flick
In what began as a defensive battle, the Ursuline High girls basketball team took off to defeat Chaney, 49-22, on Monday.
Ursuline’s Courtney Powell, a junior, turned in an outstanding performance, scoring a game-high 18 points and hauling down eight rebounds.
The first quarter ended with Ursuline (12-5) leading 7-1.
Due to the strong defensive pressure applied by both teams, both squads marched repeatedly to the foul line in the game’s first stanza.
Powell sank four tosses from the charity stripe in the first quarter to lead the game in scoring at that point, and Shawnice Allen sank a free throw for Chaney’s only point in the first quarter.
“Defensively, I don’t have any complaints about the way we handled the first half,” Ursuline coach Sean Durkin said. “Chaney’s athleticism, their rebounding, gave us some problems.
”They’re quick and they’re big,” Durkin said.
“But our offense ... We went into the locker room and talked about it loudly at halftime.”
Ursuline’s Aurielle Irizarry sank the game’s first field goal as the buzzer was about to sound the end of the first quarter.
Both squads continued to struggle offensively in the second quarter.
Powell put the ball in the hoop for five points in the second quarter to lead Ursuline
Chaney’s first field goal of the game came when junior Zatona Yancey netted a two-pointer midway through the second quarter, and Allen swished the Cowboys’ only other field goal of the first half.
The Irish went to the locker room at halftime leading 17-6.
“I was very excited and encouraged about the way” the Chaney players performed in the first half, said Chaney coach Bernard Bolha.
But in the second half, Bolha said, “The Ursuline girls just ran away from us.”
After that discussion at halftime, Durkin said his team played “more aggressively, more organized.”
Senior Shantel Boss tallied eight points for the Irish, while senior Ja’Niece Whitehead contributed seven points and Irizarry netted six points.
Allen led Chaney in scoring with six points. Senior Laniece McRae grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds while scoring four points for the Cowboys.
Powell’s strong performance was a key to Ursuline’s success against Chaney, Durkin said. “When we weren’t strong offensively, we went to her, and she carried us. She was dominant.”
The Irish roared out of the locker room and took control of the game in the third quarter.
Ursuline scored four quick, unanswered field goals to take a commanding 25-6 lead.