Basketball: St. Thomas More-Carencro girls, boys matchups pivotal in District 4-4A _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- St. Thomas More's Avery Breaux, top, and Northside Brittany Montgomery struggle over a loose ball Jan. 15 at St. Thomas More.

The St. Thomas More girls basketball team nears the regular-season finish line with two clear objectives.

Not only can the Cougars (21-4, 8-0) claim the outright District 4-4A championship with a victory over Carencro, but The Advocate’s top-ranked team in the Class 5A-4A poll can further stamp their No. 1 LHSAAA power rankings.

STM hosts the 6:15 p.m. game Wednesday.

“We’re preparing like it’s the biggest game of the year for us,” STM coach Stephen Strojny said. “We don’t want to have to go into a scenario where you have to win Friday. A win guarantees the district championship and a full power point. There’s a lot at stake, and we’re well aware of that.”

The pairings for the girls state playoffs will be released Monday, and with a competitive field in Class 4A lining up, STM would love to hang on to the top spot.

The Cougars have taken on all comers, including out-of-state games against four teams, winning twice, and are on course for a perfect finish to the District 4-4A season.

STM puts its eight-game win streak on the line against Carencro (14-7, 6-2). The Cougars to rally Carencro for a 52-46 win Jan. 22.

“Carencro has a unique style and anyone on their roster can score 20 points,” Strojny said. “Defensively they put as much pressure on the ball as any team we’ve played this year. We’re definitely not overlooking them by any means. Our girls are well aware of how good they are.”

Boys

CARENCRO AT STM: If Carencro’s boys are to remain alive for an opportunity at the District 4-4A crown, the Bears are facing a week of reckoning.

Carencro (20-7, 4-2) visits second place STM (24-6, 5-1) for a 7:30 p.m. game Wednesday and hosts first-place Northside (18-7, 6-0) on Friday.

“One of the good things about losing to STM and Northside in the first round was that it took a lot of the pressure off of the kids,” Carencro coach Christopher Kovatch said. “I think they got eaten by the moment. They weren’t really used to it. All of a sudden by losing, there are a whole lot less (outside) expectations.”

Carencro had positioned itself in the earlier district matchup with STM, leading the Cougars 30-25 at halftime and trailing just 45-41 after three quarters.

However, STM followed the lead of Trevor Begue (23 points) and outscored Carencro 19-7 in the final quarter for a 64-48 road win.

The Bears bounced back from their second two-game losing streak of the season after a 62-52 setback at Northside with wins over Beau Chene (64-54) and Opelousas (59-57).

Kovach said his team will be without the services of leading scorer Araden Adams until next week.

“We’ve tried to keep it simple in practice and focus on what we do well,” Kovatch said. “We’re going to let the chips fall where they may.”