What makes a super Saturday? How about four teams, with four stories and all have a chance to win LHSAA titles.
“My kids refused to lose,” Madison Prep coach Dwayne Hayes said after the semifinals. “I just want them to go in and do what they do best. Play hard and stay focused. You can’t ask for more.”
Holden and Madison Prep bring experience that includes an LHSAA title in the past two years. District 5-5A rivals McKinley and East Ascension come into the final day of the LHSAA girls basketball tournament looking to make history by winning their first titles.
Games begin at 10 a.m. at the Rapides Parish Coliseum. At 2 p.m. top-seeded Holden (34-1) takes on Anacoco (36-4) in the Class B final. Top-seeded John Curtis (29-1) plays No. 2 McKinley (30-3) in a Division I final rematch at 4 p.m. The Class 5A final between No. 8 East Ascension (23-2) and seventh-seeded Natchitoches Central (27-8) follows at 6 p.m. Madison Prep, the fifth seed, faces No. 2 Loranger (24-7) to conclude the six-day tournament at 8 p.m.
Livingston Parish-based Holden seeks its second title in three years in Class B. The Rockets lost in the semifinals a year ago.
“Last year it was on us … we messed up,” Holden senior Kaylee Hughes said. “We don’t want that feeling again. This is a chance to get it right.”
Madison Prep entered its semifinal with the numbers against them. The Chargers beat top-seeded South Beauregard 57-44 with an eight-player lineup led by guards Kennedi Green and Kennedy Moore. A win Saturday over a Loranger team led by junior guard JaMya Mingo would give MPA a 3A title to go with its 2A title from 2017.
Can McKinley and East Ascension give Baton Rouge a sweep of Class 5A/Divison I titles? The duo looks to duplicate the all-local football feat pulled off by Catholic in Division I and 5A Zachary last fall.
“Our thought on the rematch is to come home with the hardware,” McKinley interim coach Bridget Bowman said. “We know it is going to be a tough game. We want to come in and make all the adjustments to have a better game.”
Curtis beat McKinley 43-36 a year in the Division I final a year ago. The Panthers beat the Patriots by one point earlier this season.
East Ascension is one of those overnight success stories that was 21 years in the making for EAHS coach Dennis Chandler, who won 3A titles at McCall (now Madison Parish) in the 1990s. Chandler’s message is for his team to keep doing what they did in a 61-41 semifinal win over Zachary. EAHS is in the tourney for the first time since 1992.
“I won’t go home and fret about Natchitoches Central,” Chandler said. “They’re a good team. I know what we can do. What I can do is prepare my kids to play the best they can play. That is what it takes.”