There's not always a correlation between geography and the LHSAA’s playoff pairings. But when there is, the chance for intriguing matchups abound.
Such is the case Thursday night when the girls basketball playoffs begin with three games that feature local crossovers with teams from the north shore.
Two of the three games — No. 21 Fontainebleau at No. 12 Denham Springs at 6:30 p.m. and 19th-seeded Hannan at No. 14 St. Michael at 6 p.m. — offer some familiarity.
St. Michael and Hannan of Division II select played each other in the Warriors' fourth game of the year in November. Denham Springs and Fontainebleau of Class 5A nonselect have not played each other, but the Yellow Jackets are familiar with one of the top players for Fontainebleau, 6-foot-1 post player Gabby Dodson, who played two years for District 4-5A rival Scotlandville.
The third north shore/BR crossover is No. 25 Slidell at No. 8 East Ascension at 6 p.m. in 5A, part of a bidistrict round schedule that includes 24 games. Fifth-seeded teams, Zachary in 5A and Madison Prep in 3A, also host playoff games Thursday.
“We’ve already had the talk about the playoffs,” Denham Springs coach Shelly Laprarie said. “First of all, we’re happy to be in the playoffs. After graduating 11 seniors last year, I'm not sure a lot was expected from us.
“I’m pleased with how far this group has come. But now it is a five-game season. You lose and the season is over. Fontainebleau is a team that is also capable of winning this game.”
Both teams have multiple players who stand 6-foot or taller. Dodson is an Arkansas-Little Rock signee who averages 12 points and 11.5 rebounds per game for Fontainebleau (23-10). McNeese State signee Maia Robinson (6-2) averages 12 points and 11 rebounds for DSHS (20-7).
The Hannan-St. Michael game represents the side of the nonselect/select playoffs critics dislike. Neither team has a winning record. Hannan is 4-20, while St. Michael is 9-18.
“We are young and I am pleased with the growth we’ve made year,” St. Michael coach Jeanne Kenney said. “As new as the format was, there were some things we gained from playing in the district tournament last weekend. We put together some things I hope will carry over to the playoffs.
“The first time we played Hannan we won, but in the playoffs you take nothing for granted. This is a chance to show how much we have improved.”
Katie Brumfield leads St. Michael with a 10.0 scoring average.
The LSU connection
Kenney is one of four former LSU women’s players with teams in the playoffs. The newcomer to the group is first-year Southern Lab coach Quiana Chaney, whose fifth-seeded team drew a bidistrict bye in Division IV.
University High’s Bonita Johnson has the highest-seeded team among the LSU alums. A tough schedule and late-season surge helped the Cubs grab the No. 1 seed and a bye in Division II.
Annette Lowery takes her No. 24 Dutchtown team to No. 9 Sulphur for a 5A game also set for 6 p.m.