Splitting basketball semis has pros and cons

Warren Arceneaux

The LHSAA’s decision to split the semifinals for basketball among three sites in order to ensure enough time between games to empty and disinfect the arenas was a sensible one logistically but could create some unintended consequences from a competitive standpoint.

The most important question that still needs to be addressed is what factors will be used to determine which classes are sent to which site for the semifinal round. So far all we know is that both semifinals for each class/division will be played back-to-back at the same site. For girls, the semifinal sites will be Lake Charles and Hammond, which will also host all of the championship games.

For boys, the semifinals will be split between Lafayette and Lake Charles, which will host all of the championship games at Burton Coliseum.

Logic and precedent — most sports now allow the higher-seeded team to host quarterfinal round playoff games regardless of previous travel — both would suggest that the highest remaining seed would be sent to the nearest site. That may not always be possible since each site can only host 12 semifinal games. If the LHSAA decides to try to maximize revenue, a class/division could be sent to the site nearest the majority of the participating teams, even if none are the highest seed.

Locally, placement will matter more on the girls side, where more area teams are expected to reach the final four. St. Louis is currently the top seed in Division II and leads by a big enough margin that they should finish there. Bizarrely, the LHSAA has ruled that the Saints can’t play playoff games at Burton, which has hosted some of the school’s regular season games since the Saints’ on-campus gym was destroyed in Hurricane Laura, forcing the school to scramble to find an available gym that can host its regional and quarterfinal round games.

The good news for the Saints is that the second seed, St. Thomas More of Lafayette, is also closer to Lake Charles than it is to Hammond, increasing the odds that the Saints will get to stay home for its semifinal game.

Last year’s Class B seed had three local teams in Fairview, Lacassine and Hathaway. That trio plus Anacoco and Florien, both located along the Hwy. 171 corridor, are all in the top six of the power rankings this season, so the B semifinals are a virtual lock for Lake Charles. Given the strong following each of the local trio schools posses, the limited amount of tickets — 1,550 for each game — will be in high demand for those games.

Defending Class 4A champion LaGrange holds the top spot in the power rankings with Huntington of Shreveport second and Neville of Monroe third. With Class 5A, where three of the top four seeds are located east of Baton Rouge, likely ticketed for Hammond, it is likely the Gators will get to stay home.

Class C, where the current top seed Gibsland-Coleman has a much easier route to Lake Charles, and the next three seeds are Hicks, Reeves and Plaiview is also likely headed to Lake Charles.

Separating the boys semifinals will be much more difficult since Lake Charles and Lafayette are so close together, but should not affect area teams all that much. Currently only Elton in Class 1A and the Class B tandem of Anacoco and Hathaway are in position to earn top four seeds. With Anacoco a top seed by a wide margin Class B is a lock to be held in Burton. So is Class C, where Simpson is atop the power rankings at the moment.

The problem the LHSAA is facing is that each of the other nine teams leading the class/division power rankings are closer to Lafayette than Lake Charles. Three of those would have to bypass Lafayette on the way to Lake Charles. Rayville is the top seed in Class 2A and would be facing a long trip either way. It is likely they could be sent to Lake Charles. Over the past decade the Hornets have made nearly annual trips here for both the Top 28 and Hamilton Christian’s regular season tournament, so they wouldn’t feel too out of place.

The most interesting decision could involve Class 1A’s North Central, which is located about 40 minutes northeast of Lafayette, but also just under two hours away from Lake Charles. Sending them away from the nearest site wouldn’t create a cross-state trip and with Elton the number two seed, 1A would likely produce good crowds at Burton when not many local schools are likely to be available.

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Warren Arceneaux covers high school sports. Email him at

warceneaux@americanpress.comWarren Arceneaux

American Press

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