Christian Life Academy boys basketball coach Mark Cascio took the latest news about his team in stride.
The Crusaders (19-5, 7-0) moved up to No. 1 in the latest Class 1A rankings by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The fact that CLA hosts No. 4 Southern Lab (18-10, 6-1) for a crucial District 7-1A game set for about 7 p.m. Tuesday dictated Cascio’s response.
“I don’t want come off as sounding ungrateful,” Cascio said. “Rankings are nice, but they don’t change our primary goal right now which is to win a district title and qualify for the playoffs.
“Depending on what happens against Southern Lab, it could be a one-day thing. We need to keep our focus on this game.”
The Southern Lab-Christian Life game helps highlight a busy Tuesday schedule that includes several key basketball games, along with playoff soccer action.
A District 4-5A girls matchup also features two top 10 teams. Third-ranked Walker (25-3, 7-0) hosts No. 6 Zachary (21-3, 6-1) at approximately 6:30 p.m.
In boys soccer, third-seeded Parkview Baptist (17-6-2) hosts Episcopal School of Acadiana at 6 p.m. for a regional-round playoff.
Four local girls teams also play regional contests Tuesday, including No. 3 University (17-1-2), which hosts No. 14 Opelousas Catholic at 5 p.m.
The Christian Life boys moved into the No. 1 spot in 1A after receiving six first-place votes and 138 total points. The previous No. 1 team, Central Catholic-Morgan City (19-4), also got six first-place votes and had 136 points.
Four of the top five boys teams in 1A are local ones. White Castle (20-7) is third, followed by Southern Lab and Pointe Coupee Central (22-6).
Christian Life took an 81-78 win over the Kittens at Southern Lab on Jan. 20. Frank Bartley and Jonathan Stove each average 13 points per game to pace CLA.
Southern Lab will be without guard JR Harris, who scored 23 points before suffering a knee injury in the fourth quarter the first time the teams met. SLHS coach Lonnie Machen said the Kittens expect to have Harris back for the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Lance Bernard, who also missed a number of games this season with a broken foot, leads Southern Lab with a 20.0 scoring average. Trent Flowers (12.0) and Deonte Shorts (10.0) are the other leaders.
“I expect a game that’s a lot like the first one,” Machen said. “They know what we do and we know what they do.
“It’ll probably be a lot like the Super Bowl. It’ll come down to which team can handle the pressure and make the plays.”
More of the same, too
Walker High coach Anton Schwartz and Zachary coach April Brown expect their game to also mirror their matchup last month. Walker won the game at ZHS 37-29.
“I expect it to go down to the wire,” Schwartz said. “The teams are very similar. We match up well physically, and when you look at game film, you see we like to do a lot of the same things.
“The key is going to be which team can execute what they want to do the best.”
Ashley Williams and Jerrica Stepter each average 15 points per game for Walker. Zachary is led by Mariah Wright (16.0), Bria Reed (14.0) and Kassiney Williams (12.6).
“We’re excited about the chance to play Walker, the No. 3 team in the state,” Brown said. “It’s a big game for us. But when you only have a week left in the regular season they’re all big.”
Another 7-2A showdown
The Dunham School (23-6, 10-1) moved up to No. 4 in Class 2A after claiming a key 7-2A win over Episcopal (24-6, 9-2) on Friday. The Tigers now sit alone in first place.
Episcopal is now ranked fifth, but Tuesday’s game with Redemptorist (14-11, 8-3) is just as pivotal for Dunham as the game with the Knights was. Jonathan Honore had 22 points and Zach Padgett had 19 for the Tigers in the win over Episcopal.
On Tuesday, the Dunham faces one of the area’s top players in Tennessee Chattanooga signee GerVaughn McGhee, who scored 23 points in Friday’s win over Northeast.
Road games against highly seeded opponents dominate Tuesday’s girls schedule.
St. Joseph’s Academy (11-13-1), seeded 14th, travels to New Orleans to take on No. 3 Dominican in Division I regional action set for 7 p.m. at Pan American Stadium.
St. Michael (7-11-3) heads to Houma to take on top-seeded Vandebilt Catholic in Division II action.
In Division III, there is one game in addition to Opelousas Catholic at University. Runnels, seeded sixth, hosts No. 11 Menard-Alexandria at 6 p.m. on Field 5 at the Burbank Soccer Complex.