By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald
Ursuline Academy’s basketball team might be known as “the bad luck Lions,” but you’d never know it by watching Coach Andrea Williams girls in navy and white perform.
As they enter District 10-3A play, the Lions have won 15 of 18 non-district games, the latest against 14-6 Ellender, 59-40, in the “Den” on Jan. 11.
Williams’ team has performed excellently through two seasons of unfortunate injuries.
As a No. 8 seed in 2016, a very young Ursuline squad defeated Rayne, 61-48, for the Class 4A state championship. Along the way to a 28-6 record, the Lions’ knocked off the No. 1 seed, St. Thomas More in a 59-55 thriller.
Super sophomore guard Kourtney Weber was named the 4A Outstanding Player along with the Clarion Herald Elite Team’s MVP.
That championship team included sophomores Weber, Brooklyn Mitchell and Giordin Johnson, freshman center Kennedi Jackson and eighth-grader Kiersten Nelson.
Expectations were high for a repeat and, possibly, a three-peat as the 2016-17 season approached.
Then Weber suffered a season-ending knee injury before the season actually started.But Mitchell stepped up and took over as the team’s leader with a strong complement of veteran (and still young) players around her.
The Lions again roared into the playoffs as a No. 4 seed with a 20-9 record. But they fell to No. 1 Parkview Baptist, 52-50. Parkview then beat University Lab in the finals by 20 points.
Mitchell earned the honor as the Elite Team’s 2017 MVP. Now the Kansas signee is also sidelined by a knee injury in her final year.
Weber is back at full strength as a senior who has signed with Florida State. And the Lions are roaring again.
With freshman Tyrielle Williams taking Mitchell’s place, Ursuline’s proficiency as a unit has overcome the injury jinx.
The Lions enter district play as the No. 3 seed in Division II.
Loyola Prep is currently the No. 1 seed with a 19-2 record, and University Lab (13-10) is a surprising No. 2 seed, considering its record.
District 10-3A also includes No. 5 seed St. Charles Catholic (12-5), De La Salle, Lusher and Academy of the Sacred Heart.
Ursuline has the most experienced starters of the group and has posted key wins over 2017 Class 5A champion Destrehan by the lopsided scores of 66-37, and 74-44.
The Lions have also defeated Warren Easton, 53-47, and the Division II No. 5 seed, Cabrini, 73-56. Now the Lions look to finish what they started two years ago.