Area teams make final preparations for postseason

Warren Arceneaux

Hamilton Christian’s MLK Warrior Classic held Saturday in Burton Coliseum was a great day of basketball, with almost all of the 10 matchups of outstanding teams delivering drama.

The event was basically a dress rehearsal for the Marsh Madness state championships tournaments. With the regular season entering the final few weeks of play, here’s a look at area teams that have a chance to play on the big stage in the postseason.

As usual for the area, there is a long list of contenders on the girls side. A pair of defending champions, LaGrange in Class 4A and Fairview in Class B, have maintained championship form this season. The Gators are 16-1 against a tough schedule that has included wins over reigning state champions Hicks, Doyle, Liberty and Fairview. All state forward Jeriah Warren is even more dominant as she has become more aggressive scoring. UL-Monroe signee and fellow all state selection Aasia Sam gives the Gators one of the top tandems in the state. LaGrange is currently atop the unofficial 4A power rankings by a comfortable margin over Huntington, which also has just one loss.

Fairview is part of a posse of area teams bunched near the top of the B power ratings, just behind leader Hathaway with Anacoco (3rd) and Lacassine (5th) not far behind. A repeat of last year, when the area produced three of the four B semifinalists as well as the both teams in the finals — Fairview and Hathaway — is certainly possible if not likely. Lake Arthur has been one of the most impressive teams in the area this season with a 22-3 record that includes quality wins over Hathaway, Lafayette Christian, Hicks and Lacassine. The Tigers boast a deep lineup led by Nicholls State signee Deonna Brister, with Kali Horsby, Katherine Leonards, Brooke Daboval and Vivian Sketoe also capable of producing big games. The Tigers reached the semifinals last season. Rosepine is on a 10-game winning streak and might be able to stay at home in the first three rounds of the playoffs if they can climb a few spots.

St. Louis has finished as runner-up in Division II each of the past two seasons but looks like the favorite to finish the deal this season, with a formidable lineup led by Myca Trail, Paris Guillory and Raven Guillory. The Saints are 20-1 so far. District mate South Beauregard is in the top four of the 3A power rankings and picked up a quality win over 1A leader East Iberville Saturday.

District 4-1A has a pair of contenders in Merryville and Elton. Merryville was a semifinalist last year and returns star Maddie Mahfouz. Elton won the title in 2019 and has one of the state’s most dominant players in Vici Woods, a ULM signee who controls the paint on both ends of the floor.

Reeves was a 2019 state tourney participant and are 13-3 so far, comfortably in the top four of the C power rankings.

On the boys side, Washington-Marion continued to roll Saturday with a quality win over Iowa at the MLK event. W-M has won 12 of its past 13 and has a deep roster led by Jamaar Moore, Braylon Turpeau and Tyree Brown. The degree of difficulty in Class 4A is high this season, as the Charging Indians are only eighth in the power rankings despite its current strong run of play. No other member of District 4-4A is in the top 25 of the power rankings, so W-M doesn’t figure to move up much in the power rankings, meaning a tough road game likely awaits in the quarterfinal game should they get that far.

Both South Beauregard and Iowa are in the top ten of the 3A power rankings, but like Washington-Marion, are in a class loaded with contenders. The worst current record of any District 4-3A team is 4-5, so the Golden Knights and Yellow Jackets should be able to maintain or improve their spot in the power rankings down the stretch. They meet Friday in Iowa in a big-stakes game.

District 4-1A produced a pair of state participants last year in Hamilton Christian and Grand Lake. Both of those programs are in a reloading year. The Warriors are currently seventh in Division IV, which is top=heavy with powers Crescent City, Riverside, Southern Lab and Calvary Baptist at the top. A quarterfinal trip to one of those teams likely awaits.

It’s had to get a read on Grand Lake, which has only played seven games so far due to its run to the football finals. The Hornets are replacing four starters and have a good amount of talent, but needs more game experience to find its groove.

Elton has emerged as a contender with a 15-3 start that has them fourth in the 1A rankings after wins over both Hamilton and Grand Lake. Head coach Carlo Maggio has big-game experience after winning a title at Christian Life and leading Hathaway to the tournament a few years ago. Sherman Bellow, Demarcus Jack, Jadon Ross and Dahntay Robinson lead a balanced Elton offense.

Anacoco and Hathaway hold the top two spots in the B rankings. Anacoco (24-2) has piled up quality wins over bigger schools, with wins over St. Louis, Washington-Marion, West Monroe, Iowa and Huntington as well as fellow B contenders Hathaway and J.S. Clark. Hathaway, led by Ian Augustine and Noah Guidry, is 16-4 with good wins over Jennings, South Beauregard and Fairview.Warren Arceneaux

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