Few coaches are willing to give up homecourt advantage. Plaquemine boys basketball coach Donald Ray Johnson sees it as a gesture that gives the Green Devils a second home.
“I started thinking about it two years ago, before I was the head coach,” Johnson said. “We’ve got guys who come from that end of the parish. That area is known for basketball, and the gym is still there. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. And other people liked it too.”
So there you have the story on why Class 4A Plaquemine (13-2) is hosing 3A Port Allen (12-2) in the old North Iberville High gym in Rosedale. The game matching two of the area’s top teams features plenty of other story lines too.
The Port Allen-Plaquemine game helps highlight Friday’s post-holiday schedule of games with the varsity game set for about 7 p.m.
The last game played in the NIHS gym was in 2009, months before the Iberville Parish School Board opted to close the 1A school, shifting students to Plaquemine High.
“We’re looking forward to playing Plaquemine again,” Port Allen coach Brandon Ricard said. “The guys know each other. It’s a good way to get ready to start district play. We beat them by one point real early in the year at the White Castle tournament, but both of us have gotten better and changed since then.”
The teams have their share of star power. Port Allen is led by 6-foot-8 Northwestern State signee Ishmael Lane, who is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Point guard Nigel Allen (6-2) contributes 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game, while Jordan Morgan (6-2) adds 11 points per game. The Pelicans’ lone losses were to McKinley and Northside of Lafayette.
Plaquemine won its holiday tourney earlier in the week. The Green Devils lost one-point games to Port Allen and Glen Oaks and have won eight straight.
PHS is led by a player from the Rosedale/Maroguin area, 6-5 senior Devante Marshall, who averages 14 points and seven rebounds. Shooting guard Cameron Garner averages 10 points, while point guard C.J. Young is just under 10 points per game.
Green Devil reserve Louis Conerly is playing in a football all-star game in Lafayette and will miss Friday’s contest. Reserve Wayne Toussaint is the other player from the North Iberville area.
“We have to be able to limit the chances for their point guard, Nigel Allen,” Plaquemine’s Johnson said when asked about his game plan. “We can’t let him score at will. We need to be physical with Lane and limit what he can do around the basket. They beat us in a game we thought we should have won, so that’s motivation.”
Ricard added, “Physically we match up real well. They always play sound defense, and it’s not only Marshall you have to worry about. They’ve got several guys who can shoot it from outside. It’s a good matchup for both of us.”
District play for most boys basketball teams is at least a week away. Some girls teams, including those in districts 4-5A and 6-2A, end their holiday break with key games.
In District 4-5A, Walker (17-3, 1-0) hosts rival Denham Springs (7-10, 0-1) in a game that will start at about 6:30 p.m. DSHS is rebuilding after advancing to the 5A semifinals last season. Walker was a quarterfinalist in 2014 and sat atop the LHSAA’s 5A power rankings list in mid-December.
Also notable is Zachary (13-7, 1-0) at Broadmoor (14-5, 0-1) at 6 p.m. Friday. Broadmoor was the runner-up in the EBR girls tourney last month. Both games start at about 6:30 p.m.
Redemptorist (13-5, 1-0) travels to Episcopal (8-3, 1-0) for a key District 6-2A game. Redemptorist is coming off a 57-50 win over McKinley on New Year’s Eve. The Wolves finished with four players, only one of whom was a starter.
Sampson out for week
Madison Prep star guard Brandon Sampson is expected to be sidelined for a week with an elbow injury suffered in the EBR boys tourney title game Monday.
MPA coach Jeff Jones said the 6-5 Sampson hyperextended his elbow and suffered a bone bruise but should be back in the Chargers’ lineup next week.