Last Modified: Saturday, March 02, 2013 7:00 PM
With the long-awaited and expected Class B basketball showdown between the Fairview Panthers and Lacassine Cardinals set for later this week, the area’s trophy haul is going to expand a little this week.
That game, though played in Monroe, will give the area a second winter championship, to go along with Hamilton Christian’s win at the state indoor track and field meet. Unfortunately, it will be the only game in the four-day event on the Louisiana-Monroe campus to feature Southwest Louisiana teams.
That likely won’t be the case for the remainder of the school year, as the spring sports are usually the area’s time to shine.
In baseball, Barbe is the defending 5A state champion and has made the trek to New Orleans for the state tournament a nearly annual experience. The Bucs don’t return much starting experience on the mound and lost first-round First-Year Player Draft pick Gavin Cecchini, but return a host of experienced position players. Kennon Fontenot will slide over to shortstop to fill Cecchini’s slot and continue the Barbe tradition of standout shortstops.
Sam Houston had a stellar regular season last year, earning a top-three seed before being upset in the first round of the playoffs. The Broncos return two-way star and Baylor signee Kameron Esthay and appear set to challenge the Bucs for the District 3-5A crown and contend for a spot in the state tournament.
Iowa must replace a couple of stalwarts from its Class 3A runner-up squad from last year, but the Yellow Jackets have a pair of returning stars in Justin Demary and Austin Theriot. The Yellow Jackets have good momentum going after the football team, coached by baseball head coach Sean Richard and quarterbacked by Theriot, made its first trip to the quarterfinals.
St. Louis was a game short of returning to the state tournament last season, and will have to fill-in for departed all state shortstop Matt Gallier, but should be among the better 4A teams.
In softball, Hackberry and Sam Houston are each two-time defending state champions and return enough starters to be among the favorites again this year.
The Broncos are starting the season without reigning Miss Softball Baylee Corbello available to pitch, but freshman Tanner Wright has been up to the challenge, picking up a pair of district wins last week, including a no-hitter at Sulphur.
With the outdoor track season getting under way, the Warriors and Panthers, who have put together a string of recent trips to the podium at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium, are good bets to continue their hauls.
With softball and basesball state tournaments returning to Sulphur, the odds are good local fans will be able to see area schools pick up some hardware.
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Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at email@example.com