LONGVILLE – Behind 30 points from Domonique Davis, DeRidder opened up the South Beauregard Duel in the Dungeon Tournament with a win over Leesville.
Davis hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Lady Dragons defeated the Lady Cats 64-45 Thursday afternoon.
"I've been harping on her that she is the heartbeat, and she has to go," DeRidder head coach CT Kiely said. "When she comes out slow, we come out slow. When she comes out fast, we come out fast. That was a big thing for her to come out like that. It really set the tone for us."
Leesville struggled early going down 20-4 in the first quarter. With a lot of new faces from last year's team, it's a learning experience for the whole squad.
"It's been really tough," Leesville head coach Kristi Perkins said. "Jarielle James hasn't been able to find herself yet. Being the point guard and general on the floor, it's hard because you have to control everything.
"She definitely has it in her. It's about finding the inner piece and letting the beast come out. It's also about being comfortable in what you have going on. Confidence also plays a huge part in her game."
A putback by Azariah Benson stretched the DeRidder lead to 21 early in the second quarter, and DeRidder took a 34-15 lead into the break.
"We've been struggling with energy, and we came out with energy," Kiely said. "Our energy on the bench and on the floor was key for us."
The Lady Dragons extended their lead with an 8-0 run to start the third quarter, as Davis deferred as a scorer and got other players involved.
"Whenever you have such a dominant player on the floor, you're hardly ever going to stop that person," Perkins said. "You might be able to slow her down, but you have to make sure that if she is beating you, she is the only one that is beating you."
Leesville (2-5) outscored DeRidder 15-10 in the fourth quarter, but too much damage was done as the Lady Dragons (5-3) picked up a win in the tournament opener.
Amaya Thomas led the Lady Cats with 15 points, and Jayla Burnett added nine.
"What we did today, which we haven't done in the prior games, is pass the ball more and do it a whole lot better," Perkins said. "That's a step in the right direction. We have to be able to connect the dots. That's the most important part."
Azariah Benson scored 11 for DeRidder, and Nadia Osburn also scored 11 in the win.
"It's a lot of new bodies and getting a lot of girls that haven't contributed before to make the adjustments," Kiely said.
"It's all about patients and staying calm, especially when we go to the bench. They're all young. It's a new thing for me. I'm used to having a veteran crew."