Back in December, the Denham Springs and Holden girls basketball teams advanced to the championship game of the Livingston Parish tournament, with Denham taking a 46-36 victory.
Given the next-level nature of girls basketball in the parish, it should come as no surprise that those two teams were among the ones still standing when the LHSAA’s postseason turned to the Girls Top 28 state tournament in Hammond this week.
Holden (24-6) reached its first Top 28 since 2006 by beating Midland 51-34 in the quarterfinals, setting up a matchup with No. 1 seed Lacassine in the Class B semifinals. About 20 miles to the west, Denham Springs (29-3) held off Barbe 58-53 in its quarterfinal game to earn a semifinal matchup with the top seed in 5A, Mandeville.
It marked the third time in four years that two teams from Livingston Parish were in the Top 28 field.
Denham Springs coach Shelly Laprarie said she had an idea her team was in for a big year after the Yellow Jackets beat Holden for the parish title.
“I think competing in the parish tournament, usually for the teams that win it in girls basketball, you can always look back at the end of the year and those teams are always there,” Laprarie said.
Holden coach Pam Forbes, who built the program into a Class B juggernaut during the 1990s and early 2000s, led the Rockets back to the Top 28 for the first time since beginning her second stint on the sideline three years ago.
Holden perhaps made its run a year ahead of schedule as the Rockets have a starting five that features just one senior, a junior and three sophomores.
The same could be said for Denham as the Yellow Jackets start only one senior, three juniors and a sophomore.
In other words, both teams should be right back in the thick of things next year.
Albany girls fall
Albany was hoping to join Denham Springs and Holden in Hammond and continue its pursuit of another state championship, but the Hornets were denied a Top 28 bid in the quarterfinals for the second straight year as they fell to No. 3 seed University 57-46.
Madison Peters had 16 points for Albany (25-9) in the losing effort. Mahogany Williams scored 15 points to go with 10 rebounds.
The Hornets defeated Richwood in the second round.
Like Denham and Holden, Albany should be strong again next year as the Hornets also had just one senior starter.
Albany boys advance
The Albany boys basketball team, seeded 11th in the 3A playoffs, were bound for Monroe earlier this week after beating Lusher Charter 53-40 in the first round.
Against Lusher, Dylan Hoyt went for a game-high 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Sean Sykes had 12 points and six rebounds. Albany led 27-18 at halftime.
The win earned Albany a trip to face No. 6 seed Caroll in a second-round matchup that was scheduled for Tuesday. Albany lost to Evangel in the second round last year.
Cedotal earns national honor
Former Denham Springs standout Kyle Cedotal, a senior left-hander for the Southeastern Louisiana University baseball team, was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball following his dominant effort against Louisiana-Monroe on the opening night of the college season.
It marked the second time in as many seasons that Cedotal has received the honor.
Against ULM, Cedotal pitched the second shutout of his career in a 2-0 win and matched a career high with 14 strikeouts.
Pitchers usually aren’t expected to pitch a complete game on opening weekend. Most build toward higher pitch counts as the season progresses.
“Any time we garner national attention, it’s a positive, whether it’s an individual or the team,” SLU coach Matt Riser said in a university news release. “We didn’t have any expectations of running him out there to throw a complete game. He just kept his pitch count low and executed, giving us time to get the bats going.”