SULPHUR — It looked as if No. 6 Sulphur had another winning rally in the works to extend its season and the career of retiring head coach Helen LeFevre Thursday night in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Sulphur took the lead with less than a minute left, but No. 19 Natchitoches Central held on to win 40-37.
It was the second consecutive upset of a top-10 team for the Chiefs (18-11), who beat two-time defending state champ and third-ranked Captain Shreve on Monday.
LeFevre ended her career with 825 wins over 36 seasons at three schools.
“Just not enough,” LeFevre said. “It is a tough ending for my seniors because they have done everything we have asked them to for four years. They have put the time in the gym and have been great leaders on and off the floor. It is tough to lose those three.
“I know it was my last game, but if somebody had told me at the beginning of the year that this was how it was going to end, I would have still gone on the ride with them. It was a great ride with them. I had hoped that we could get there (state tournament) for them, but they had a great year.”
The Chiefs led 34-25 after a bucket in the lane by Abrionna Kennedy with 6:11 left in the game before Sulphur (29-6) went on a 12-2 run. Forwards Raegan Ojoro and Moe Patterson combined for eight of those points and Abby Wyatt got a steal and sprinted down the court for a layup and a 37-36 lead with 55 seconds left. But Natchitoches Central’s Nia Hardison scored off an offensive rebound with 38 seconds left and J’unti Franklin hit a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left.
Sulphur used its full-court press to force nine turnovers in the second half but got four points out of it and went 7 of 17 from the free-throw line.
“We seemed a little bit hesitant to attack them in the first half,” LeFevre said. “We started attacking them in the second half a little bit better.
“We lost by three, but we missed 10 free throws. That was tough, and they hit theirs (free throws) down the stretch. Natchitoches is a good team and they took us out of our game. We tried pressing them and they kept finding that open corner man and she was hitting it. We went to a press because we had to.”
Kennedy hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first minute of the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 15 points while Franklin finished with 12.
“If (Kennedy) missed a couple of those (3-pointers), we would have had a chance but she was sinking them. You have to give them credit.”
Sulphur trailed early but went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-5 lead on a shot in the lane by Abi Massey with 5:42 left in the second quarter.
Natchitoches Central used its man-to-man defense to hold the Tors scoreless the rest of the half and went into the break up 17-14 after Ty’kiera Sowell banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We held them to 17 in the first half and I thought that was really good, but they held us to 10,” LeFevre said.
Ojoro led Sulphur with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Patterson finished with 10 points.