It wasn’t exactly the finishing kick McKinley basketball coach Harold Boudreaux was looking for from his team.
The Panthers closed the regular season 2-3 in District 5-5A with consecutive losses to East Ascension and Dutchtown to cap the regular season.
McKinley, though, took advantage of the league’s first postseason tournament, sweeping its way to the championship with three double-figures victories en route to the title over East Ascension.
No. 4 McKinley (21-10) now sees itself in a different light, a much more confident team with a four-game win streak going into Friday’s Division I select state quarterfinal at home against No. 5 Jesuit (28-6) at 7 p.m.
“It’s just realizing we have a lot of seniors and this is their last year,” Boudreaux said. “It’s got to be a home run. This is our last time at bat, and we’ve got to make it happen.”
McKinley, the state runners-up a year ago, advanced with a 62-41 regional victory over Shaw. Tyrese Radford paved the way for the Panthers with 20 points.
“The kids have played well and played hard,” Boudreaux said. “They’re playing like it’s their last shot and have left it all on the floor.”
After double byes reigning Division I state champion and No. 1 Scotlandville (24-5) hosts No. 8 Holy Cross (19-11) at 7 p.m. Friday, while No. 3 Catholic (19-8) entertains No. 7 St. Augustine (23-10) at 7 p.m.
Defending Class 2A state champion and No. 1 Madison Prep Academy (23-6) hosts District 6-3A foe and No. 8 Brusly (22-8) in a Class 3A state nonselect quarterfinal at 7 p.m.
Reigning Class 1A state champion and No. 4 White Castle (19-8) hosts No. 12 Arcadia (12-12) in a Class 1A state nonselect quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Friday.
QUARTERFINAL REMATCHES: The Church Academy, the No. 10 seed, gets another opportunity to face District 8-2A champion and No. 2 seed Dunham, after the Crusaders’ 66-63 regional road win over No. 7 St. Thomas Aquinas.
Dunham (23-7) hosts the Division III select quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Friday. The Tigers scored a resounding 76-41 victory when the teams met two weeks ago.
“Dunham’s a well-coached team that plays hard,” TCA coach Ryan Price said. “We’re trying to put our guys in the best situation where they can have a chance to win the game.”
The Crusaders, who trailed by eight points in the third quarter against St. Thomas Aquinas, were led by the Ezekiel McMurtry's 21 points, Ellison Booker's 16 and Jory Roussel's 13.
“It helped getting a road win,” Price said. “I think our district prepares us. It helped us a lot because we’ve been in some tough road environments.”
No. 6 St. Michael the Archangel, which faltered 64-57 against No. 3 De La Salle on Dec. 29 in Catholic’s Red Stick Classic, travels to meet the reigning Division II select state champions at 7 p.m. Friday.
“The first time we played them we didn’t come out very good and fought from out of a hole the whole time,” St. Michael coach Drew Hart said. “I’ve got seniors playing, so they’ve traveled before. That shouldn’t be an issue.”
St. Michael advanced with a 63-30 regional win over E.D. White. Senior guard Trent Schiller lead the Warriors with 20 points, pushing his career total to 1,000 points, while Max Alfred, who made five 3-pointers, added 17 and John Brady had 10.
“It’s a good matchup as long as we continue to play defense the way we have this season and shoot the ball well,” Hart said. “If we do, then we’ve got a shot.”