Unintended consequences usually aren’t good things, but the decision made earlier this year by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to not move the start of basketball back by two weeks — which would have shortened the overlap with football, which was moved back by two weeks due to COVID-19 — has resulted in a loaded high school sports schedule this week. There’s a Thanksgiving menu’s worth of tasty matchups both on the gridiron and hardwood as basketball season hits its first full week of full-time play.
The football schedule is a lot better than last week, when the silliness of the public/private split for playoffs makes a complete mockery of most first-round playoff games. Last Friday, area teams participated in 12 opening round games. The average margin of victory in those games was 22.7 points, a number that is artificially low due to top seed Jennings and third seed Lake Charles College Prep not playing that day, high seeds Grand Lake and Oberlin receiving byes in Class 1A and Leesville, the fifth seed in Class 4A, being forced to play a Northwood team that would have been seeded in the top ten without having to forfeit a pair of regular season games.
There should be more drama this week now that the brackets have been reduced to a more sensible 16 teams in the public school classes and eight in the private school divisions. After cruising by Erath Saturday, Jennings gets a tougher test this week with a road trip to No. 17 Lutcher, a traditional state power with a deceiving 5-3 record. One of the losses came to Class 5A St. Amant, and the other two were be three points each to defending Class 3A state champion St. James and E.D. White, which has won seven games. The other 3A game is a rematch between Lake Charles College Prep and South Beauregard. The Golden Knights led the first game 10-6 at halftime before the Blazers pulled away with a second half surge.
In Class 2A, Kinder could be in line for a challenge from Avoyelles after the Yellow Jackets rolled past Delcambre in the opening round last week. Like Kinder, Avoyelles is a physical team with a groundbased attack. The Mustangs won at South Beauregard earlier this season and beat Oakdale by 36 points in the opening round last week.
Rosepine will travel to Loreauville for another 2A regional game. This one could be a shootout. The undefeated Tigers average 40 points per game. Rosepine isn’t far behind at 38.4 points per game and has scored 178 points during its current four-game winning streak.
In Class 1A, Basile will be looking to repeat history by winning at Haynesville for a second straight season after coming home with a 28-27 win last season. Grand Lake will be looking to make history by advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since restarting the program in 2013 when it plays Delhi in Jennings Friday night. Oberlin will try to keep its streak of eight straight seasons with at least one playoff win alive when it hosts Centerville Friday night. The Tigers reached the semifinals last season.
If that isn’t enough, two of the area’s best annual hoops tournaments are being held this week. South Beauregard’s Duel in the Dungeon tips off Wednesday and features a loaded girls field that includes Class C champion Hicks, Class B champion Fairview, Division II runner-up St. Louis, Class 1A semifinalist Merryville and Class 2A semifinalist Lake Arthur.
Hamilton Christian boys will host the Showdown in the Lake tournament Wednesday. The field has a more local flavor this year with St. Louis, Washington-Marion, LaGrange, Leesville and Anacoco in the 10-team field. Class 5A champion Alexandria, Division III champion Dunham and Class 1A champion North Central are the featured out-of-area teams.
Among the top players in the field are Dunham’s Carlos Stewart, a St. Mary’s commitment, Alexandria’s Robert Drakes, North Central’s Derrick Tezeno, St. Louis’s Nic Ughovwa, Washington-Marion’s Jamaar Moore and Hamilton’s Mason Russell and Malachi Evans.
Warren Arceneaux covers prep sports. Email him at