Merryville's ultimate goal this season was to be the last teams standing in Class 1A.
However, it wasn't in the cards as Delhi, behind a flurry of baskets in the third quarter, defeated the Lady Panthers 69-53 Friday in the Class 1A State Championship at Rapides Coliseum.
"It's been a good year," Merryville head coach Victor Ortiz said. "We played a lot of hard competition to get ready for this moment. The team wasn't gelling early in the season, but once we started gelling and players started getting closer as a team, it became a lot more fun. I'm proud of the fact that they made it to the finals. It would have been nice to win a state championship, but a lot of teams would have liked to be in our situation."
Not only did it mark the end of a season, but the career of one the most accomplished players in the history of Louisiana girls basketball, Andrea Cournoyer.
Cournoyer, who scored 33 points in the loss, eclipsed the 5,000 career point mark earlier this season.
"First, I want to give the glory to God," Cournoyer said. "I've had a great seven years. Unfortunately, we didn't win today. My time at Merryville has been special, and I'm going to miss the team. I'm just thankful I got to play since the sixth grade and have been pretty successful. Unfortunately, I didn't come home with a state championship, but I got close two times."
The Bears outsized the Lady Panthers at almost every position on the floor, leading to a 50-30 rebounding advantage.
Merryville trailed 12-9 at the end of the first quarter and got the deficit within one with 1:38 to go in the second quarter.
Cournoyer went 11-for-11 from the line in the first half, which put the bigs of Delhi into foul trouble.
Leading 29-25 to start the second half, Delhi began the third quarter on a 10-0 run in the first two minutes.
"Usually the third quarter is our best quarter," Ortiz said. "We usually come out with fire, but for some reason, today we missed easy shots and they did a lot more shots than they're accustom to. Our game plan was to shut down the inside."
The Bears outscored Merryville 26-11 in the third, led by 19 points from Le'Shenae Stubblefield.
Stubblefield led Delhi with 37 points en route to earning the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
The Bears shot 55.6 percent in the third quarter, while Merryville shot 26.7 percent in the period and 27.8 percent for the game.
"Percentage-wise, our shooting isn't what it normally is," Ortiz said. "We turned the ball over more than our fair share, which is uncommon for us. The team played well, but it just wasn't our day today."
Merryville outscored Delhi 17-14 in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too much for the Panthers to overcome.
Madisen Mahfouz scored seven points for Merryville, while senior Jania Williams puled down a team-high seven boards in her final game.
"In Merryville, we're a very close-knit town, and we wanted to bring this one home for them" Cournoyer said. "I know they're going to be proud, either way. Our town is a special one."