Big Time district games, Rematches Highlight a Great Friday Night of Basketball
Lot's of big time games tonight in the state. Let's start in Class B and C, where 4-Time district 9-C and 10-C champion Family Christian hosts Jehovah Jireh. JJCA is ranked 4th in the power rankings. Family Christian has been playing without their 6'7" junior Joseph Larson who is out for the year with a torn ligament in his knee. JJCA has a great history of being an elite team in Class C up until 2006. Now Coach Dirk Ricks has his team back in the upper echelon of team in Class C and look poised for a Top 28 run. Another class C to watch is a game will feature top 10 teams in Grace Christian and Sicily Island. Sicily Island is back in the top 10 after losing all-state sguard Karlos Gary who was one of the best players in the entire state in 2009. Grace Christian is finally back in Class C after a 2-year absence and are coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Class B in which they lost to eventual state champ Zwolle.
In Class A, the big game on the schedule is a rematch of Christian Life vs. White Castle. In their first meeting at Christian Life, WC pulled the upset and defeated top-ranked CLA on the road. Tonight, White Castle Hosts Christian Life in what is probably the most intriguing match up in Louisiana in Class A and one of the best games on tap in the state. White Castle with a win can maintain their top spot in the district race while CLA with a win can take a share of lead for the district title. White Castle will look to a very favorable home crowd and the leadership of junior star Ronald Martin to lead them to the win while CLA will look to St. Joseph's signee Langston Galloway(right). Christian Life, who since that loss to the Bulldogs 3 weeks ago, have since beaten their oponents by an average of 42.2 points per game with the closest being a victory of East Iberville which was decided by 16. White Castle on the other hand has only averaged 20.2 points per win since the CLA upset. On paper you may think CLA won't lost again to WCHS but don't be too quick to say that. CLA has kept White Castle from the Cajun Dome last year and in 07 and in 08 CLA beat them in the semi-finals. There is a lot of bad blood between the two. This will be the type of game that will be decided by who plays the toughest, the most poised and who can limit turnovers. This will definitely be one of the best games in the state tonight.
In 2A, one of the best rivalries in the class is in 7-2A with Dunham vs. Episcopal. Since their last meeting, an 8 point Dunham win at home, the Tigers have dropped 3 of their last 4 and Episcopal hasn't lost since. The Knights of EHS are led by the state's and the country's top freshman in 6'5" Brian Bridgewater. Dunham will look to their senior leaders of Jasper Caine, Kyle Planchard, Dantrail Butler and Tre Celestine to counter EHS. The biggest key to the game isn't who will stop Bridgewater but it will be how well can Dunham stop the other 4 EHS players. This game is huge for Dunham. If they can get the win it will stop their slump of losses and give them a huge momentum lift going into February. Another key game in this 7-2A district race is Capitol hosting Pointe Coupee Central. Capitol is led by former Parkview Baptist coach Don Green who spent the last few years as principal at Carroll HS in Monroe. PCC is led by senior guard DJ Cobb and another senior leader in Idrakery Lewis. A third game to really lookout for tonight is Red River traveling to Many. The last meeting of the two teams was a Many loss at Red River. The two teams now are ranked 1 and 3 in the state. Many comes in the top ranked team in the power rankings despite losing to RR a few weeks earlier. Many will look at Dantrell Thomas, Rod Davis, DJ Palmer and Nic Jacobs to lead the way while RRHS counters with two very good players in the Cordarius' Johnson and Smith. Johnson is a high flying athlete that can really score the ball and Smith is a player that can really score it as well and in a variety of ways. Definitely keep an eye on these games tonight. 2A has definitely got some of the best games in the state tonight.
Left: Red River's Cordarius Smith, Right: P.C.C.'s DJ Cobb
Left: Episcopal's Brian Bridgewater, Right: Many's Dantrell Thomas
In Class 3A, the biggest game of the night is in district 2-3A with Carroll hosting Caldwell. Carroll, the district leader at 4-0 on the 1st part of district looks to continue their district streak. Caldwell who started the year with a 25-0 record has since only won 1 game. This game will be huge for Caldwell if they can pull the upset.
Left: Bossier's Jalan West, Right: Minden's A'Torri Shine
Left: Peabody's Markel Brown Right: Alexandria's Christavious Gill
Class 4A also has a big time game on tap as Alexandria Senior High hosts Oklahoma State Signee Markel Brown and top ranked Peabody. This game is big for a few reasons. In their first meeting back in November, Peabody won 66-29. Since then, Peabody is still undefeated, still have Markel Brown, still have the states winningest active coach in Charles Smith but a few things have changed. One has been the steady play of Doc Welch for ASH and the emergence of freshman point guard Christavious "Tay-Tay" Gill. Not only is this big for ASH if they want to win a district title but it is big because it is a big time rivalry game as well. ASH has dropped a game already to Leesville so to lose this would drop them to 3rd. Should be a good game but I still expect Peabody to be undefeated after tonight. Another big time game will be Bossier who hasn't lost a game since they lost to Christian Life in the Ballin' on the Red tournament back in November, taking on Minden who comes in at 24-4. BHS will be led by Jalan West, a 5'11" sharp-shooting guard that can do it all. Minden counters with A'Torri Shine another player that is highly talented and a heck of an athlete.This is definitely one of the most intriguing matches in 4A tonight and one of the best games in the state along with CLA/White Castle. Another big time matchup will be between district 6-4A rivals Opelousas and Northside. Northside comes in at 21-6 while Opelousas is a misleading 8-15. Why do I say misleading, well it is easy. Although they are very talented, they are equally as young. OHS is led by 2 juniors in Jalen Pullard and Avalokeia "Tubby" Malveaux along with 6'4" freshman Clarence "Pooh" Hamilton. OHS started the year out 3-13 but since they are 5-2 in January and have losses to St. Martinville and district rival Northside. The last meeting between the two was at OHS in which NHS easily beat the Tigers on the road. I don't expect Opelousas to come out and dominate the Vikings but don't be shocked if an upset happens. OHS is one of the hottest teams in 4A right now so keep an eye on this big time match up.
Now on to 5A and where better to start than with the state's top ranked team in Scotlandville. The Hornets are led by Stephen F. Austin signee J-Jay Thomas(right) and junior Levie Wright to go with a trio of very good sophomores in 6'8" Zarif Basile, Thaddeus Fortune and Deshawn Washington. The Hornets will have a huge test tonight as they go on the road to Central HS. Central has a record of 17-4 and their only district loss was to Scotlandville three weeks ago by 23. This time is different, CHS has now gotten to know SMHS' personnell, it is a home game and it is very tough to win at Central. If Scotlandville can win at CHS then that will be a big time road win for the young Hornets. Central counters with a lot of senior leadership that starts with PG Josh Veals, shooters Will and Wes Briscoe and the post play of Jae Cutno. This game should be a great matchup tonight. The other big time matchup tonight which could possibly be a preview to the 5A state title game is Jesuit hosting St. Augustine in a key 10-5A district game. The winner of this game will be the sole owner of the 1st place spot in district. This game is also a rematch of a game played earlier in the year the Nokia Sugar Bowl CYO classic in which Jesuit won. The difference this time around is that in the last meeting senior Dominick Scelfo, who will play at Cornell University next year, was not playing with a knee injury. He is now back and healthy and junior Brady Hadden has played well all year in Scelfo's absence. St. Augustine counters Jesuit with one of the best sophomore point guards in the state in Javan Felix and one of the top forwards in the sophomore class in Sydie London to go with senior leadership from Eldridge Moore. Not only does this game have talented players but it has an intrigue to it that goes back to the 60's that ended up in the making of a TNT movie called "Passing Glory" that talked about the prejudiced back in the 60's between the white schools playing the black schools. It was a great movie and now 40 years later the rivalry has continued and better than ever. Both teams know each other and respect each other. To add more intrigue to the matchup, St. Augustine is ranked 3rd in 5A while Jesuit is 5th. Should be a classic matchup tonight.
Jesuit's Dominick Scelfo left and St. Aug's Javan Felix right.