Coming down the home stretch: Teams scramble for playoff position
As the high school basketball regular season winds down, number-crunching picks up as area teams try to secure home-court advantage for the playoffs, which start next week for girls and the following week for boys.
In boys action, St. Louis will host Iowa (13-6, 3-3). The Saints are in a close race with Archbishop Hannan and Evangel Christian for the eighth seed and the right to host a Division III playoff game.
St. Louis has had plenty of drama in district play, with five of six games decided by four points or fewer, including Tuesday’s 40-38 win over Westlake. The Saints beat Iowa 55-51 on the road on Jan. 26.
St. Louis head coach Mack Guillory said taking care of the basics is paramount in close games.
“When we’ve gotten a good outcome we have taken care of the ball, made free throws and done a real good job rebounding,” he said.
“In the first game with Iowa, we rebounded well, played good defense and they didn’t shoot as well. They play hard, play together, do a good job rebounding and seem to have good chemistry. They have been playing together for a long time.”
The Saints have not allowed more than 51 points in district play. Iowa has averaged 68 points per game since playing St. Louis, beating Jennings but losing to Westlake and South Beauregard. Forwards Davonte Wright and Curtis Deville combined for 35 points in Iowa’s most recent game, a 67-62 loss to Westlake last Friday.
Bryson Hardy scored 18 and Nic Ughovwa added 10 for St. Louis in their January win over Iowa.
The search for consistency and momentum heading into the playoffs are the big themes tonight, the final night of the regular season.
Washington-Marion (12-6, 5-2) is set to host a first-round playoff game next week and is unlikely to move from its current slot as the 13th seed in Class 4A, but will be looking to end the regular season on a high note against District 4-4A opponent North Vermilion (8-7, 4-3).
While W-M’s playoff future is pretty much set, North Vermilion is in search of a win to secure a first-round home playoff game. The Patriots entered the week 16th in the power ratings and may need to win to stay there. Doing so would allow them to stay at home next week. Moving down would mean they would travel.
W-M has won six of its last eight games, with both losses coming to defending Class 4A state champion LaGrange.
Rick Hickman / American Press