Notre Dame girls basketball coach Nolan Theriot couldn’t be happier than to be back in the Class 3A state playoffs.
The Pioneers have put together a tradition of excellence during Theriot’s tenure, including consecutive state quarterfinal appearances.
However, in order to reach such a distinction again No. 11 Notre Dame (19-8) will have to dispatch of District 6-3A foe No. 22 Erath (14-11) when they meet in first-round action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Crowley High School.
“The biggest thing is making sure you’re prepared,” Theriot said. “I think our kids are eager to play. I don’t really like playing a district opponent, but I’d rather play a team we know more about than somebody I don’t know anything about.”
The Notre Dame-Erath encounter is one of 10 in the Acadiana area.
The strength of District 5-4A will be on display with three teams hosting first-round games at 6 p.m.
League champion and No. 11 seed Breaux Bridge (25-4) entertains No. 22 Landry-Walker (19-11), No. 10 St. Thomas More (22-5) hosts No. 23 Beau Chene (15-7) and No. 19 Huntington (16-10) visits No. 14 Northside (18-11).
District 4-4A champion Rayne (23-6) looks to improve on last year’s trip to the Class 4A regionals with a 6 p.m. home game when the No. 7 Wolves host No. 26 Ursuline (14-14).
“We were a quarterfinal team for three years in 3A, so now we’ve got the Top 28 as our goal,” Rayne coach Chester Randall said. “We’re still taking it one game at a time.”
For the first time in three years Vermilion Catholic recaptured the District 7-1A title, going 12-0. The Eagles (21-4) earned a No. 2 seed in the Class 1A playoffs and entertain No. 31 Logansport (11-11) at 6 p.m.
“It was nice for the kids,” VC coach Kim Guidry said. “This group had never seen our standing tradition of cutting down the nets at home if we go undefeated in district. It helped instill some excitement and brought their intensity to the level it needed to be.”
Notre Dame avenged a 50-49 loss at Erath with a 46-38 home win over the Bobcats on Feb. 10.
One advantage the Pios enjoy will be postseason experience with seniors Madeline LeJeune, Hannah Esthay and Elise LeBouef going into the ninth postseason game collectively in their careers.
“The worst part about it is one of our district teams will have to go home,” Theriot said. “I think both of us are pretty good in the fact we should both at least be in the second round. That’s the way it goes.”
Rayne is riding an eight-game win streak and has won 12 of its past 13 games.
The Wolves are led by the 20-point average of junior Charlesa Dugas and 10 points a game by -foot-1 junior center Whitley Larry, who averages five to six blocks.
“We’re just trying to build on our success and do better than we did the previous year by taking it one game at a time,” Randall said.
With senior starters Ashailee Brailey and Kaylen Collins, VC has remaining links to its last state championship team in 2012-13 with Leah Camel and Kelly White also having played.
Brailey, a two-time first-team all-state selection, leads the Eagles with a 22-point average. Collins averages 18 points and 12 rebounds for a team that’s won six straight and 13 of their past 14.
“We’re excited with our seed, but when the bracket is out it doesn’t really matter,” Guidry said. “You have to show up and play every game.”