The conclusion was anything but memorable when St. Thomas More had its season halted 57-34 at Rayne in last year’s Class 4A state regional playoff.
More than a setback, it was the catalyst for the Lady Cougars’ coaching staff to construct an even tougher schedule that would expose a more veteran team to similar competition in comparable environments this season.
Head coach Stephen Strojny and assistant Brooke Womack did just that, lining up STM against some of the state’s top competition and even some from out of state during a trip to Disney World.
Not only did it provide a solid foundation for STM (19-3) to win the District 4-4A championship, but it helped solidify the Lady Cougars as the top-seeded team in Class 4A when the LHSAA announced its playoff pairings on Monday.
The Lady Cougars will host No. 32 Assumption (11-15) on Thursday at 6 p.m. in a first-round game.
“We said if we wanted to be a top-four seed, we needed to schedule some of the tougher teams in the state,” Strojny said. “Even if we lost some of those games and end up with eight or nine losses, we would be battle-tested. If by some chance we won a lot of those games, and figure out a way to win our district, then we could be end up being a top-four seed.”
STM and Iota both drew No. 1 seeds in their respective classifications to highlight a group of 23 teams from the Acadiana area moving into postseason action.
The Lady Cougars also carried the flag for a competitive District 4-4A that had five of its six teams — Carencro, Northside, Teurlings Catholic and Beau Chene — earn playoff bids.
“It’s the only district in the state to say that, and that’s a testament to girls basketball in this area,” said Strojny, whose team went 7-1 in league play. “It’s kept us seasoned. We’ve had some tough district games.”
Three of those teams — STM, No. 12 Northside (26-5) and No. 13 Carencro (16-7) — earned top-15 seeds and will host with the Lady Vikings taking on No. 21 Belaire (17-8) and Lady Bears meeting No. 20 Minden (17-8).
Iota (24-5) navigated its way through a difficult District 4-3A championship, dropping only one game along the way.
The Lady Bulldogs drew No. 32 Marksville (12-13) in a Class 3A opening-round game Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re coming off an awesome practice (Monday), and they’re excited,” Iota coach Meghann LeJeune said. “They see Hammond (site of the Girls’ Top 28) in the future, and that’s not something I talk about. They have their sights on the prize, and it’s been successful for us so far.”
A year after going on the road to record the program’s first playoff victory, Lafayette Christian Academy (23-7) parlayed a tough nondistrict schedule and its initial District 7-1A title into a No. 3 seed and home game.
The Lady Knights host No. 30 St. Frederick’s (12-13) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
“If you would have told me we were going to be No. 3, I wouldn’t have believed it,” LCA coach Errol Rogers said. “I was hoping to be in the top 12. We’re happy, but we can’t be too happy because we have to play like a three seed.”
Other high-seeded teams from the area to watch included No. 6 Rayne (27-2), which hosts No. 27 St. Martinville (17-8), while defending Class 1A champion No. 2 North Central (24-2) entertains No. 31 Elton (11-13) and reigning runner-up No. 5 Vermilion Catholic (23-6) gets No. 28 St. Edmund (10-15) at home.