By Sam Muffoletto
The 25th annual Livingston Parish Boys and Girls Basketball Tournament gets underway at Maurepas on Tuesday, with five-time champions Walker girls and Springfield boys coming in as top seeds.
The LadyCats, under third-year head coach John McMillan won the tournament two years ago, but had to settle for the runnerup spot last year, as Denham Springs took the title with a 46-38 win.
The Lady Jackets are seeded second this year, followed by Albany, Doyle, Springfield, Holden, Live Oak, French Settlement and Maurepas.
Springfield's boys were also parish tournament runners-up a year ago, losing to Albany 63-40.
The Hornets, who had some huge losses to graduation last year, are seeded fifth this year.
Live Oak was voted the second seed, followed by Denham Springs, Walker, Albany, Maurepas, French Settlement, Holden and Doyle.
Springfield head coach Mark Erdey is the only coach to have coached in the first one and is tied with former DSHS head coach Paul Smith for the most parish titles with five.
"It's a big deal for us," said Erdey of the parish tourney. "It's one of our goals every year to win the tournament. It's tough though, because we're a little behind because of football every year.
"But it's the most prestigious tournament on our schedule," said Erdey.
Earning a first-round bye as a No. 1 seed, Springfield will take on the Holden-Doyle winner on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
"I know we have good enough players where we could win the parish tournament, but I don't know if we'll be ready in time," said Erdey, who just got the bulk of his players back after a two-week run in the football playoffs. "I know we're doing everything we can to get ready."
Along with Holden and Doyle battling at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the other first-round boys game on Tuesday will pit Walker and Albany at 8:30.
First-round boys games on Wednesday will have No. 3 seed DSHS taking on Maurepas at 5:30, while No. 2 Live Oak and FSHS tangle at 8:30.
While the LadyCats will wait until 7 p.m. on Thursday to take to the court against the FSHS-Maurepas winner, No. 2 DSHS will play Live Oak at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, preceded by two other girls first-round game, Doyle and Springfield at 5:30 and FSHS and Maurepas at 2:30.
Wednesday's first-round girls games will have No. 3 Albany taking on No. 6 Holden at 7.
DSHS has won the most girls titles with seven, while current head coach Shelly LaPrarie has the most wins with four, followed by three former coaches, JoAnn Smith of Albany, Lisa Brewer of Walker and Jennifer Goodwin of Doyle, all with three each.
Both the Walker and Albany girls programs have five parish titles.
The Lady Jackets, however, have won four of the last five girls championships.
While LaPrarie and McMillan are the only two active girls coaches with parish titles, six current boys coaches all have titles, Evan Balfanz of Maurepas, Kenny Gautreau of French Settlement, Wynn Wingate of DSHS, Anthony Schiro of Walker, Erdey of Springfield and last year's winner, Daniel Kennedy of Albany.
Schiro has the distinction of winning the parish tournament as both a player at Walker (1995) and has a coach at Albany (2005).
All four semifinal games are set for Friday, while a full day of action is set for Saturday, beginning with consolation games leading up to the two championship games at 7 p.m. (girls) and 8:30 (boys).
Courtesy of the Livingston Parish Daily News