The continual growth of Madison Prep Academy has created a unique challenge for its athletic teams.
With each two-year classification cycle, the Chargers boys basketball team has evolved from a Class B novice into a respected statewide power, now participating in Class 3A.
Madison Prep can add to its reputation when the No. 1 Chargers (24-6) meet No. 4 Wossman (25-9) at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in a Class 3A state nonselect semifinal at the Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
The Chargers will attempt to win their fourth consecutive state championship in a third classification after back-to-back titles in Class 2A and one the previous season in Class 1A. They began their string of state crowns in 2013 with a Class B title.
“I’m super-proud of these guys to move up to 3A, end up as No. 1 seed with our three best players missing significant time,” MPA coach Jeff Jones said. “Our kids have been resilient. A lot of no-named guys that are going to be named guys after this year have stepped up.”
Jones readily admits to this being his most challenging season, having lost his top two players — Georgetown signee Josh Leblanc and UL-Lafayette signee Kobe Julien — during the season to injuries.
Julien suffered a season-ending ACL injury just last month.
Leblanc, who has averaged 13 points, has returned from a broken foot to the team’s starting lineup, while another senior, Jharon Whitfield (7.0 points), is expected back after a wrist injury.
Junior guard Jahein Spencer has been a constant for Madison Prep with 14 points along with the sophomore trio of guard Elijah Tate, forward Jordan Johnson and guard Jason Perry.
Wossman, which has won its last 13 games, has been the state runner-up the past two seasons.
DUNHAM, EPISCOPAL FACE STERN TESTS: The appearance of the box score from last year’s 70-41 loss to Country Day in the Division III state championship game made its way into The Dunham School’s locker room several weeks ago.
It has served as a vivid reminder of a game that featured 26 turnovers and 34-percent shooting for the Tigers.
No. 2 Dunham (24-7) gets the opportunity to atone for such a performance, meeting No. 3 Country Day (21-10) in a Division III select semifinal at 1:15 p.m.
“The guys said they wanted to get back to that game,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “We get Country Day and another opportunity to beat them in a Final Four. It obviously didn’t go like we wanted last year.”
Class 2A All-State selection Jordan Wright, a 6-5 junior, leads Dunham with a 24.7 average with senior guard Oddyst Walker (19.2), junior guard Ralph Davenport (14.2) and sophomore forward Salle Wilson (11.3) also in double figures.
No. 4 Episcopal (32-3) is another team from District 8-2A dealing with a supreme challenge, facing No. 1 Riverside Academy (30-1) in Wednesday’s first game at 11:30 a.m.
This marks the Knights' second straight trip to the state tournament and third in four years. They’re still in search of advancing to the school’s first state title game.
“They’re probably the best team in any class,” Episcopal coach Chris Beckman said. “We’re taking the challenge. If we can keep it close then we may have a chance to sneak one out at the end.”
Senior guard Cameron Dumas (17.4) is one of three double-digit scorers for the Knights, joining junior guard Brandan Garrido (10.2) and senior forward Kade Edenfield (10.0).