(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 9:55 AM
The seemingly inevitable conclusion to the Class B girls high school basketball season takes place tonight when Fairview and Lacassine meet in a rematch of last year’s title game, which Fairview won 70-64.
That win made Fairview the first team in state history to win six consecutive state championships.
The Panthers return all five starters from last year and are 43-1, losing to Class 4A DeRidder by one point.
Lacassine (39-1) had more turnover, losing four seniors and three starters from last year’s team, but have been just as good, going 39-1, with the lone loss coming to DeRidder by five points.
Since the 2004-05 season, Fairview is 38-1 in the playoffs, winning the Class C title in 2005, losing the Class B championship game in 2006, then winning six consecutive Class B championships.
Four times the Panthers have beaten the Cardinals in the playoffs, first in the quarterfinal round in 2006, then in the championship game in ’07, ’08 and ’12.
The game will be the finale for Lacassine head coach Eddie Michalko, who is retiring after 33 seasons and more than 900 career wins.
“I told the two seniors, Haley Guidry and Raylnn O’Brien, that I feel like them because this will be it,” Michalko said.
“The only way to make this movie better is to pencil in that Lacassine beats Fairview,” he said. “I have known (Fairview head coach Kyle Jinks) for years; we played all the time when I was at Hackberry, and when I got here they were in our district. In Class B, Fairview is girls basketball. I can’t see playing anyone different, it wouldn’t be the same. He’s from Hackberry. We know a lot of the same people.”
Michalko said the Cardinals will have to keep pace with the high-scoring Panthers.
“I am impressed by how well they shoot the ball,” he said. “They shoot it so well and move up and down the floor so well. He has his program set the way he wants it. If you are going to have a chance, you have to be able to put the ball in the hole because you know they are going to score.”
Michalko said Fairview’s pedigree will have no impact on him or his team.
“I have never stepped on the floor expecting to lose,” he said. “This team has the ability to beat anybody they play, they just have to step on the floor and do it. They play together defensively, they are not shy about helping each other. We don’t always play great, but we always play hard.”
Jinks said after Fairview’s semifinal win over Florien that interior defense and rebounding were areas of concern.
“We have got some things to work on. We showed some things we need to work on or we’re going to lose,” he said.
In last year’s title game, Fairview raced to a 22-9 first-quarter lead and made 13-of-28 3-pointers. Karli West made 6 3-pointers and scored 21 points Katie Lemieux made three 3-pointers and scored 15 points. Abbie Melanson led Lacassine with 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting.