Christmas presents have been opened. The college football bowl season is over, except for the FBS title game.
Looking to fill the void? Try high school basketball. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, but with a wide-ranging group of teams opening district play in the weeks ahead there is plenty to see.
Scotlandville and Madison Prep are the boys teams with the biggest reputations. The attraction goes beyond LSU signee Ja'Vonte Smart of Scotlandville or MPA's Josh Leblanc, a Georgetown signee.
Why? There is always more to Baton Rouge basketball than the headliners. The District 4-5A race will start with Scotlandville (14-3) and Walker (16-2). The Wildcats may be the team that gives the Hornets their toughest district challenge in years.
District 5-5A has possibilities. St. Amant (16-2) has the best record. A battle-tested group that includes Broadmoor, Catholic, Dutchtown, East Ascension and McKinley is quite capable.
Madison Prep moves into 3A and 6-3A for the first time. The Chargers have done well with Leblanc sidelined by an injury. Baker is in a slump, but is tall and talented. West Feliciana is athletic and University High has its tradition and some nice wins. All are challengers until proven otherwise.
Episcopal (18-0) is the lone unbeaten team, but faces rival Dunham (11-3) again in 8-2A. The whole White Castle-Southern Lab thing plays out again in 6-1A. Jehovah-Jireh of Class C is primed for a run at another Division V title.
Don't forget the girls. Class B Holden (18-0) is the only unbeaten team. The Rockets are worth seeing. The sky is the limit for 4-5A and 5-5A. Walker and Denham Springs have played for 5A titles in recent years, and Zachary is in the 4-5A mix. East Ascension and McKinley duel again in 5-5A. McKinley's Alexius Horne is one of the area's stars, and the Panthers have a 6-foot-7 post player in Kenyal Perry.
So far, Lee’s move from Class 2A to 4A is smooth. The Madison Prep girls won a 2A title last year and also are in the 6-3A picture with traditional power University High and another newcomer, Mentorship Academy. In 2A, French Settlement (15-2) has the best record. Dunham and Episcopal are among the others to watch. In 1A, think Ascension Christian and Southern Lab.
It is cold outside. Good thing basketball is heating up.
Umpires to meet
The first meeting for the Capital City Umpires Association for baseball is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Independence Park branch EBR Library at 7711 Goodwood Blvd.
Current members and anyone wishing to become a high school baseball umpire should plan to attend. Contact Al Toups at (225) 888-7290 or Reese Brown at (225) 439-2964 for details.