LA MARQUE — If the Lady Cougars can bottle up their first half of play on Tuesday night, the road to Austin could be smoother than expected.

Having pushed aside Houston Jack Yates on Tuesday night, the La Marque girls basketball team (14-13) will seek to move past Hardin-Jefferson (19-13) when the two schools meet at 7 p.m. today at Dayton High School.

Much of what coach Monique Everett would love to have bottled up is the continued solid play from seniors Brittany Bennett and Armoni Green, who combined for 27 points and 15 rebounds in Tuesday’s 48-40 bi-district victory. Bennett, the front-runner for District 24-3A Player of the Year, set the tone offensively by scoring 10 of her 16 points in the first half.

“Brittany’s amazing,” said Everett. “What else can I say about her? She’s everywhere. She can score, she can pass and she’s good defensively. She is simply an all-around player.”

Bennett and Green must be up to the task against a Hardin-Jefferson team that got past Splendora in a 44-39 defensive stalemate Tuesday night. The Lady Cougars will also have to keep in mind that the Lady Hawks sport a 7-1 record at neutral sites this season.

The one thing Everett will want her team to avoid is stretches similar to what it faced in the fourth quarter Tuesday, in which Yates was able to overcome as much as an 18-point deficit. The Lady Lions moved within 10 points in the closing minutes before La Marque’s defense rose up and dashed any chance of an improbable rally.

“A lot of basketball is mental, so I think most it was about trying to get our team back mentally and get them to understand teams are going to make a run at them,” Everett said. “It’s part of basketball. They just had to keep their head, keep the momentum and fight to stay ahead.”

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