CROWN 'EM: Hicks win Class C title
LAKE CHARLES – For the second year in a row, Hicks is the last team standing.
The Lady Pirates captured the Class C State Championship with a 64-62 win over No. 4 Plainview Friday afternoon at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
"We told the girls all year to not become a state champion for that trophy – become a state champion because of what it will make of you," Hicks head coach Mike Charrier said. "That game right there demonstrated what having the goal of becoming a state champion made of our team. They faced adversity, foul trouble, injury and being rattled. They settled at the right time, and different girls came through with big shots and defensive stops at the right time. On the big stage, that's huge for our program."
Hicks fought foul trouble throughout the contest with the officials calling the game tight.
"We adjusted when Lauren Quinn and Shaley (Charrier) both picked up their third fouls," Mike Charrier said. "We adjusted by having different players on the court and set aside offensive sets and defensive schemes they were comfortable with. Tonight, we were out of our rhythm, but the girls were able to settle in and get the job done."
Plainview ends the season with a 26-11 record, but head coach Phillip George was was pleased with how the team played against a Hicks team that has rolled throughout most of the regular season.
"You couldn't ask for a whole lot more," he said. "We outrebounded them, same amount of assists, less turnovers, more blocks and steals. We played the way we wanted to, and it came down to missing and hitting shots.
"No offense to Hicks, because they are fantastic, but we don't look at the other team. We control what we can control. You can control your effort and attitude. Whether they are 40-1, 2-40 or 500-500, we are just going to play our game."
Hicks came out the gate hot, going up 17-6 after a 3 by Brooklyn Blackwell with 3:15 to play in the first. Blackwell had an increased role in the championship game due to the foul trouble the other starters were in.
"The whole game I just thought about this being my last game," she said. "I went to the whole team before the game, and we talked about not only does it matter for the seniors to have a great last game, but also to show the younger ones what needs to be done and to give them a role model and example on how to continue their years."
Hicks guard Chloe Wilbanks hit a long two-pointer to put Hicks up 38-21 midway through the second quarter, and the Lady Pirates took a 40-28 lead in the break.
Plainview opened up the third quarter on a 7-3 run to cut the deficit to single digits with 5:12 left in the period.
Lady Hornet forward Abigail Pippen took over in the paint with the bigs of Hicks in foul trouble, scoring nine points in the third.
"Coach George did a good job at preparing me and watching film," she said. "We knew going into this that (Lauren) Quinn did a dribble-right, spin-left move. I knew once she would dribble right that she would spin, and I could meet her and take the ball from her.
"This is the funnest season I've ever had. We were talking last practice about how this season has been more rewarding than any championship we've ever won. Last year, we played but I didn't get to play a whole game. This year, it was all on us four, and we knew everyone doubted us."
Two free throws from Pippen with 13 seconds left in the third made 52-48 heading into the final quarter.
Hicks forward Shaley Charrier opened up the final period with a 3 in the corner to put her team up 7, but a 3-pointer by Mackenzie Willis made it 55-53 just a minute later.
"I preached to our kids that you don't look at the scoreboard and change the way you play," George said. "You play with everything you have."
With 1:25 left on the clock Plainview guard Jordan Thompson hit a 3-pointer to pull her team within 2, and Wilbanks answered with a pair of free throws to make it 64-60 with over a minute to go.
Pippen hit a layup with 12 seconds remaining, and after a missed Hicks free throw, Plainview had a shot to take the lead with a halfcourt prayer with time winding down, but the Lady Hornets could not get off a clean look.
Wilbanks was named the Class C Most Outstanding Player, scoring a team-high 24 points.
"I'm glad I was able to come through for these seniors," she said. "That's who I was thinking about the whole time. I"m so thankful for them and what they've done for our program. I've been with them since I was in sixth grade and they were in seventh, and we were at rock bottom. I'm just super thankful for all of them."
As a team, Hicks went 10-for-20 from behind the arc, and shot 44.7 percent from the field.
"We spend a lot of time shooting the 3-ball," Mike Charrier said. "Every day at practice, there are 100 3s made on each end of the court and it's timed. Our offensive sets and our drills that we execute always have a 3 at the end. These girls have invested a lot of time in the gym shooting the ball."
Hicks forward Lauren Quinn added 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Blackwell finished with 10 points.
Ten players recorded points for the Lady Pirates, a testament to the depth they have worked on all season.
"That was huge tonight," Mike Charrier said. "Some nights when you don't need them, you give them an opportunity to hit the floor. They've had the opportunity to hit the floor most games this year. The ones that were able to step up tonight were able to execute the offense and the defense that was called. It served us well tonight."
Pippen led Plainview with a game-high 28 points and 15 boards. Kinsley Ashworth added 16 in the runner-up performance.
Hicks won the Class B title in 2019 and dropped down to Class C this season en route to its title. With a possible three-peat on the horizon, the Lady Pirates are ready for the challenge.
"I'm extremely excited," Wilbanks, a junior, said. "I saw all the girls that stepped up out there and the energy that they bring, even in the Ebarb game. They are always excited to be out on the court, and I'm excited for what the future holds."