Pack 36 games into a six-day tournament and you have a lot of action. Yes, there were good, bad and ugly moments at the LHSAA girls basketball tournament.
Action at Alexandria’s Rapides Parish Coliseum was subject to the aesthetic views of how people believe the sport should be played. That fact is trumped by one fundamental point. These games are a vehicle for memories. The kind that last a lifetime.
This is Year 2 of the select/nonselect split for basketball, which expanded the number of titles awarded from 7 to 12. As much as pundits, myself included, take shots at the LHSAA because of the watered down select/nonselect competition we often forget another key point.
Down the road, say five, 10 or 20 years it won’t be a select or a nonselect title. It will be “The year we won the title” or “Remember, when we played in the tournament.”
Should LHSAA principals find ways to pare down the split to make it more competitive and cost efficient for the LHSAA and the schools? Without a doubt. Don’t lay those issues at the feet of the players. Celebrate the teams and also the Alexandria organizers who brought the tourney back for the first time in 22 years.
Want my memories? I have a few. I hear cynics saying, “Yeah, you have a few because your teams only won two of five possible title games.”
Girls basketball in Baton Rouge continues to get better after a few lean years. I can’t say it will ever be like 2006 again, the year local teams won four of seven titles. There are players/teams worth watching.
Watching East Ascension win its first title in girls basketball was special. It was EAHS’ first tourney berth since 1992 and the first title for coach Dennis Chandler since he won back-to-back titles at Tallulah-based McCall in 1993-94. Nobody saw this Class 5A title coming, except Chandler and his team. The Spartans played with poise and most importantly, they played great defense.
Holden won its second title in three years in Class B on Jaycee Hughes’ layup with about four seconds left. Small town basketball is some of the best in Louisiana. What a finish. The Rockets trailed Anacoco most of the game.
Listening to Hughes describe practices when assistant coach Craig Forbes, the husband of head coach Pam Forbes, challenged the players to be the one to step up and make a play gave me chills.
Hughes chose her moment and added to the Alexandria legacy of the team of Moms who won a title in 1996 and the grandmothers who won in 1972.
I never thought I would see a team playing a tournament game with just four players. Southern Lab did it, albeit briefly, when one its five players got hurt and had to leave a semifinal game.
Lee, Madison Prep and McKinley lost title games. Semifinal wins over top seeds were memorable for Lee and MPA. McKinley played an outstanding semifinal also. The dream for 2019 begins now.
“We’ve got to get back in the lab and work,” said MPA’s Kennedi Green.
That’s a wrap. On to Lake Charles for the boys tournament.