Hot Carencro taking on St. Thomas More in District 4-4A showdown _lowres

Advocate photo by Brad Kemp Carencro guard Braylon Chaisson brings the ball up the floor against Comeaux's Devaughn Thomas in a Sunkist Shootout game Dec. 27 at St. Thomas More.

Just over three weeks ago, St. Thomas More outlasted Carencro 59-58 to decide third place in STM’s Sunkist Shootout.

When they face off again Friday, the stakes will be increasingly more significant.

“I think it’s going to be a packed house, it’s going to be very intense,” Carencro coach Chris Kovatch said. “Ultimately I think it will have less to do with pure X’s and O’s and coaching decisions and more about which kids really want it.”

Carencro (17-5) gets the opportunity to host STM (19-6) in a battle of District 4-4A co-leaders, each having won their league openers Tuesday.

Tip-off between The Advocate’s top two rated Class 5A-4A teams — STM is No. 1 and Carencro No. 2 — is set for 7:15 p.m.

“It’s going to be a packed house where both teams will have a good crowd,” STM coach Danny Broussard said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a standing room only crowd, and I love that kind of environment. I’ve told our guys you’ve got to quiet them down and not give them a lot to cheer about.”

Carencro hasn’t lost since the last STM game, having won nine of its past 11 games and four straight.

The Bears opened league play with an impressive 89-73 road win over Opelousas with senior Aradan Adams exploding for 34 points.

“It was certainly our goal to be approaching our best basketball coming into this week,” Kovatch said. “I don’t know if we were there before. We did play well on Tuesday.”

Adams, a former starter turned reserve, leads Carencro with a 24-point average. Sophomore forward Braylon Chaisson scores 13 to 14 points per game and senior guard D’Andre Dudley, a four-year starter, averages 12.

Kovatch said several other players are averaging between 8-10 points.

“It’s going to be a tough one for us, they’ve got a good team,” Broussard said. “In my opinion, this is their best team ever. Chris has a done a tremendous job.”

Broussard said his team has been preparing for the rigors of District 4-4A and beyond by a nondistrict schedule that’s contributed to the state’s second-best unofficial LHSAA power ranking in Class 4A this week.

STM relies on balanced scoring led by senior forward Devante’ Benjamin (16), sophomore guard Jonathan Cisse (14.5) and 6-foot-7 senior center William Vincent (10).

“We’re evenly matched,” Broussard said. “The one-point game we played earlier kind of exemplifies that. It wasn’t easy, and it won’t be easy going there.”