HAMMOND – Not even a Category 5 hurricane destroying their gym could stop the Hicks Lady Pirates from repeating as state champions.
The second-ranked Lady Pirates closed out one of the most challenging seasons in school history with a resounding 59-46 win over the fourth-seeded Reeves Lady Red Raiders in the Class C state championship on Friday at the University Center on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University.
“These girls understand that hard work works,” veteran Hicks head coach Mike Charrier said.
When Hurricane Laura pounded southwest Louisiana with Category 5 winds last August, the powerful storm made its way into Vernon Parish with a vengeance, destroying the gymnasium at Hicks High School, leaving the Lady Pirates and their male counterparts without a home gym.
But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they made adjustments. From early morning workouts in other gyms, to playing home games at other venues, to getting each other to and from practice, the Lady Pirates never wavered in their resolve. They faced the adversity head on.
“These girls have gotten up early in the morning for practice, made makeshift workout rooms, whatever it took to get the job done,” Charrier said. “Everyone sees the glory, but what we’ve gone through, that is the action that nobody sees. People just don’t know the story.”
The Lady Pirates fell behind by six points early on. But it was just another microcosm of what has been this most challenging season. They responded with a 17-2 surge to take a 17-8 lead at the end of the first period.
After taking a 9-point lead into the locker room, the Lady Pirates shot over 60 percent from the floor in the third period, using a 21-11 run to open up a 47-28 advantage heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Though Reeves was able to outscore Hicks in the final frame, the Lady Raiders wouldn’t have nearly enough to overcome the Lady Pirates or Most Outstanding Player Avery Coffman.
Coffman, who finished with a game-high 20 points in the outing, was quick to deflect the attention away from herself.
“”I couldn’t have done any of this without my teammates,” she said.
For senior Chloe Wilbanks, her final hurrah on the court came with 11 points as she prepares for the next step as she is a UL-Monroe commit.
“I would’ve never thought this would happen,” Wilbanks said. “We started from rock bottom and God has truly blessed us. I never would’ve imagined I would be a three-time state champion.”
Junior Lauren Quinn added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Pirates, while freshman Reese Stephens added 10 points.
Claire Dunnehoo led the Lady Red Raiders with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the loss.