St. Louis, Merryville, SBHS, Reeves play tonight in semifinals

Rodrick Anderson

With no home gym after a pair of hurricanes ravaged Southwest La. last fall, the St. Louis Catholic Saints became the ultimate road warriors this season.

The Saints practiced and played at multiple gyms in the Lake Area, playing 29 games on the road, losing just once, and forged a path back to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Marsh Madness state tournament for the third consecutive season.

“It has been a trying year,” St. Louis head coach Tony Johnson said. “We don’t have a home floor.

“We have played 29 road games. That is really going to help us out. We are prepared for everything. It is a tough thing going through these storms. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to go back to Marsh Madness. The kids have adapted very well. All of our players came back to play. They never thought about leaving. They knew the opportunity that we were going to have.”

No. 1 St. Louis (28-1) will take on No. 4 St. Thomas More today at 7:30 p.m. at Burton Coliseum.

“They are fast and play very hard,” Johnson. “They have a big post player. They are going to play you full-court, man-to-man. We have to match the intensity. I believe with us playing the schedule we have this year is making us ready for teams like this.”

The Saints have no seniors, but has a lineup well versed in state tournament play.

“It is a team full of juniors that have been going to Marsh Madness since their freshman year,” Johnson said. “They know what to expect. I am hoping that experience can lead us to that championship. They don’t know how it is not playing basketball in the first week of March.”

In Class C action, No. 4 Reeves (15-5) will take on No. 1 Gibsland-Coleman (16-3) at noon at Burton Coliseum.

The Raiders are making their first appearance at the state tournament since a run to the finals in 2019.

At Noon today at the University Center in Hammond, No. 2 Merryville (26-2) will put its 17-win streak to the test against No. 3 Northwood-Lena (20-3) in the 1A semifinals, while No. 3 South Beauregard (21-4) will face No. 7 Northwest (11-7) in the Class 3A semifinals at 7:30 p.m.

Merryville is making its fifth state tournament appearance in six years. The Lady K’s are back in Marsh Madness for the first time since 2018.St. Louis Catholic’s Tia Reder is fouled as she shoots by Teurlings Catholic’s Kaitlyn Kimbler during their playoff game at Hamilton Christian Academy Feb. 22. 

Rick Hickman / American Press

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