Five area teams one win from state finals

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

For Lacassine, Fairview, Pickering and Hathaway, semifinal games are par for the course. For Sulphur, its a new adventure

as the Lady Tors are in the final four of Class 5A basketball playoffs for the first time since 1998.

Those five teams will be playing for a trip to the state championships tonight.

Lacassine, Fairview and Hathaway will

be playing at the Lake Charles Regional at the Civic Center. Sulphur

will face Natchitoches

Central (26-4) at the Shreveport Regional at the CenturyLink

Center in Bossier City, while Pickering will face a hostile environment

against hometown St. Thomas Aquinas at the Hammond Regional.

Sulphur (27-3) has one senior starter, guard Hannah Cupit, but have grown up in a hurry and are on a 15-game winning streak.

“It feels great to be back in the semis. We try to focus on one game at a time with a young team, and they have done that,”

said Tors head coach Helen LeFevre.

“Ouachita (which Sulphur defeated 71-69

in the quarterfinal round) had a very good team, but we played well and

we had our

chances to win at the end and it fell our way. We are excited to

be here but know that we are going to face a tough Natchitoches

Central team.

“They have a very good post player, they are guard strong, they can shoot and they can penetrate. They are going to play a

full-court man-to-man against us. We are going to have to be ready to handle their pressure.”

Sulphur practiced at Burton Coliseum

Thursday before departing for Shreveport and will have a practice at the

arena this morning.

“We get to shoot at the arena in

morning,” LeFevre said. “We went to Burton to give our kids a little

while to get adjusted

to shooting in a big arena. They seemed to shoot well. (Friday) we

are going to get there early, watch a game before we play

to kind of take in the atmosphere. The girls seemed focus.”

The big stage will be a familiar

setting for the area’s other four semfinalists. Fairview and Lacassine

both won at the Lake

Charles regional last year before meeting in the state

championship game in Ruston. Hathaway will be making its fourth

semifinal

appearance in the past five years.

Fairview (42-1) will play Florien

(38-3) in a rematch of a Class B semifinal last year. The Panthers

return all five starters

from last season, including reigning Class B Player of the Year

Natosha Morvant. The Panthers have won 31 straight games since

losing to Class 4A quarterfinalist DeRidder on Nov. 29. Fairview

has won six consecutive state championships.

Lacassine (38-1) will be playing

District 7-B rival Hathaway (27-7) for the sixth time this season. The

Cardinals swept all

five previous games and have not lost since Nov. 20, winning their

last 27. Their lone loss came to DeRidder. Hathaway’s seven

losses have come to Lacassine, Fairview and DeRidder.

Pickering (28-3) reached the semifinals

last year before losing to Iota at the Lake Charles Regional. The Red

Devils are led

by returning Class 2A all-state point guard Sami Thomas. Pickering

beat St. Thomas Aquinas by one point in the regional round

last season.

Action at the Civic Center will get under way at 2:45 p.m. with a Class 1A semifinal between Vermilion Catholic (26-6) and

North Central (26-4). A Class 3A semifinal between Baker (24-5) and Abbeville (27-6) will follow at 4:30 p.m., followed by

Fairview-Florien at 6:15 p.m. and Hathaway-Lacassine at 8 p.m.

The regional will continue Saturday with three boys semifinals.