NEW ORLEANS -- “We were due” said A.O.T. Lady Rebels head coach Omar Cooper about his team’s 64-58 win over Essence Purple to win the prestigious Basketball on the Bayou championship.
In the past two weeks, Cooper's team had made it to the final four of the Battle in the Boro and AAU Nationals. This weekend, the Lady Rebels got past a tough DFW T-Jack Elite squad in the semifinals when Diamond DeShields dished the ball to Te’a Cooper for backdoor layup to win the game by one point.
In the other semifinal, tournament host Essence escaped a late rally by West Coast Premier to advance. Essence was up seven point with under a minute lef, but WCP scored four points off of a technical foul and a traditional foul, then hit a three-pointer as the clock expired. That, however, left the Californians one point short as Essence moved on with the 55-54 win.
That set up the championship game between A.O.T. and Essence, a game that featured four of the best guards in the country in DeShields (committed to UNC), Cooper (committed to UNC), Lexie Brown (committed to Maryland) and Ieshia Small.
This game was very close for the first half, but in the second, A.O.T. opened up 10-point lead thanks to great three-point shooting by Brown and DeShields. But Essence would not go down easily as Small had a personal tournament high performance of 31 points and time and time again closed any gaps the Lady Rebels opened.
“She decided she didn’t want to lose this game and she put the team on her back”, said Essence head coach Kim Powell of the 6-0 guard who was named to the all-tournament team.
“She had her foot on the gas the whole game”, said coach Cooper of Small’s performance. “She hit some tough shots and she got to the free throw line.”
With two minutes remaining in the game, the score was tied until A.O.T. hit back-to-back three-pointers, one by DeShields and one by Brown. The Lady Rebels hit eight three pointers in the game, including five by Brown, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
“She had a great weekend”, said coach Cooper of his star guard. “Every time they would try to make a run, Lexie would hit a three. Overall her shot was consistent, she played great defense, she was all over the place defensively. Lexie just took the defense to another level.”
The Lady Rebels were led by Deshields with 23 points; Brown had 18 while Te’a Cooper added 12.
2015 guard Te'a Cooper (2) gets a fast break layup. Cooper was named to the Basketball on the Bayou All Tournament Team
Basketball on the Bayou All Tournament Team
Most Outstanding Player
Lexie Brown, 5-9 point guard, A.O.T. Lady Rebels (Suwane, GA)
Diamond DeShields, 6-2 guard, A.O.T. Lady Rebels (Norcross GA)
Te’a Cooper, 5-8 point guard, A.O.T. Lady Rebels (Powder Springs GA)
Diamond Lockhart, 5-6 point guard, DFW T-Jack Elite (Red Oak TX)
Breanna Hayden, 5-10 guard, DFW T-Jack Elite (Dallas TX)
Ieshia Small, 6-0 guard, Essence Purple (Tallahassee FL)
Shayla Cooper, 6-1 small forward, Essence Purple (Doraville GA)
Katie Ferking, 6-0 guard, Peak Performance (Johns Creek GA)
Miah Spencer, 5-8 guard, WP Celtics (Decatu, GA)
Monique Billings, 6-4 center, West Coast Premier Black (Corona CA)
Shianna Carrington, 5-8 guard, West Coast Premier Black (Corona CA)
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