The memory of back-to-back losses in the Division II girls basketball state championship is still fresh on the minds of No. 1 St. Louis Catholic.
The Saints will start their push for their first state championship since 1989 today against No. 16 Teurlings Catholic (8-13).
"Our first goal was to go undefeated, but 26-1 is not bad," St. Louis head coach Tony Johnson said. "Our other goal was to win the state championship and not forget the feeling after the last two.
"We are still hungry. We didn't lose a lot of kids from last year. They work hard every day at practice and I am blessed to have a good group of girls right now. We have been working on the defensive side of the ball and putting in a solid game plan for Teurlings."
The game will tip-off at Hamilton Christian Academy at 6:30 p.m.
St. Louis (26-1) has won 12 consecutive games since a five-point loss to Division I No. 1 Mt. Carmel in December.
Johnson said the Saints have gotten stronger lately as they have been able to expand the offense beyond the main three of Myca Trail, Paris Guillory and Raven Guillory.
"We have played a lot better at sharing the ball on the offensive end," Johnson said. "They are starting to trust some kids that were not on the floor last year and we are able to be more successful.
"We play eight kids. We need 20 points from those five and the one game we lost was the game we didn't get 20 points out of them. All the kids on this team understand their roles. I think that is why we will have the edge on people this year."
The Saints are well-rested after a 10 day break since their last game.
"We took give days off, then we got back to work," Johnson said. "The rest did us some good because it gave our players a chance to get their legs back under them.
"I think we are ready to go for this last run."
In other area playoff games today, Class 4A No. 1 and defending state champion LaGrange (22-1) travels to No. 17 North Vermilion (9-8) at 6 p.m. LaGrange won by forfeit in the bidistrict round after No. 32 Beau Chene had to back out because of COVID-19.
In Class 3A No. 8 Iota (17-7) hosts No. 9 Loranger (10-6) at 6 p.m., while No. 3 South Beauregard (19-4) is headed to No. 19 Ville Platte (11-9).
Class 2A No. 15 Kinder (14-9) has a matchup at No. 2 Amite (23-2) while No. 3 Lake Arthur (27-4) takes on No. 14 Red River (8-10). Both games are scheduled for 6 p.m.
After a first-round bye, Class 1A No. 2 Merryville and Class C No. 4 Reeves will return to the court. Merryville (24-2) hosts No. 15 and District 4-1A rival Oberlin (11-12) at 6 p.m., while the Raiders (13-5) host No. 13 Calvin (7-13) at 6 p.m.