It has been more of the same for defending Class 1A state champion Christian Life Academy and a whole new ballgame for 2A University High.
Though Class 5A Scotlandville High has claimed plenty of boys basketball headlines by dominating its competition through last week’s Coca-Cola/Bob Petit/East Baton Rouge Parish Tournament, Christian Life (12-3) won East Ascension’s Spartan Classic last week thanks in part to a trio of juniors led by 6-foot-4 Jonathan Stove.
University (17-1, 2-0) has a 10-game winning streak with 6-5 Wayde Sims among a group of talented freshmen leading the way.
Both teams face notable challenges Friday night. CLA continues nondistrict play, hosting Class 3A Port Allen (8-4) with varsity action set for approximately 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, U-High hosts The Dunham School (14-4, 1-0) for a District 7-2A showdown that should start between 7 and 7:30 p.m.
It might go without saying that CLA coach Mark Cascio and UHS coach Joe Spencer are pleased with their teams. They can articulate those points, too.
“I really like this group,” Cascio said. “In some ways, I think we’re better than we were last year.
“They play well together, and games like this are good ones for us. We’ve got Port Allen and then we go to Central Catholic next week before we start district.”
Spencer said, “By the end of last year we were playing three eighth graders a lot, and now we play four freshmen. Over the summer we challenged these guys. They played Scotlandville and a lot of the other top programs around in summer league. That really helped us get better.”
U-High’s lone loss was to Port Allen, which is also notable for Cascio, whose Crusaders are led by Stove, who averages 21 points and 10 rebounds a game. R.J. Hertzog (6-3) is another junior who adds 11 points and eight rebounds per game. Malik Harrison (5-9) is the other junior.
Senior point guard Khalid Smith (5-10), a McKinley transfer, quarterbacks the Crusaders’ attack and averages 10 points. Senior Tremel Johnson (5-11) is another pivotal performer. Howevery, Johnson will miss Friday’s game because of illness and will be replaced in the lineup by freshman Jordan Plain.
“Port Allen’s perimeter play is great, and they work hard against you inside,” Cascio said. “The key for us will be stopping (Nick) Parker’s penetration and contesting his shots.”
Parker, a 6-0 junior, averages 21 points for PAHS, while backcourt mate Jarious Turner adds 19.5 points per game.
Like U-High, Dunham also has a revamped lineup. Glen Oaks transfer Quinton Thomas (6-2) leads the Tigers with a 21.1 scoring average. Dylon Maggio (6-2) is next at 13.4, while 6-5 sophomore Matt Williams adds 12.8 per game. Brian Blume (6-0) is a co-captain.
“They’ve got a lot of new starters, and so do we,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “Even though they’re young, those guys have played a lot of basketball. I think they may be the best team in 2A. With that said, we look forward to the challenge.”
Sims, the son of former LSU player Wayne Sims, averages 18.0 points per game. Junior Henry Shortess (5-8) averages 15 points, while two other freshmen, 6-5 Jaylon Johnson adds 14.0 and 6-4 D.J. White contributes 11 points per game.
The fourth freshman starter is point guard Skylar Mayes (6-0), who averages seven assists per game. Senior Chris Moore (6-0) comes off the bench for the Cubs team that relies on eight players since the loss of 6-3 senior Tyler Mynatt, who tore an ACL in the preseason.
DSHS honors 1996 team
The 1996 Denham Springs High girls basketball team that won the Class 5A state title will be honored in between Friday’s junior varsity and varsity games when the Yellow Jackets host Woodlawn High in nondistrict action.
A number of players from the 1996 team, including former LSU player Katrina Hibbert, are expected to be in attendance. Junior varsity action starts at 5:30 p.m. at DSHS’ Hornsby Gym.
Speaking of Scotlandville
Coca-Cola/Bob Petit/East Baton Rouge Parish Tournament champion Scotlandville has a showdown of its own Saturday.
The 5A Hornets (16-2) will face Class B Madison Prep (26-3) at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Baton Rouge Community College Bonne Sante’ Wellness Center.
It will be the lone scheduled meeting for Madison and its 6-foot-9 Jarell Martin, an LSU commitment. Scotlandville is led by 6-8 Vanderbilt signee Damien Jones, the EBR tourney MVP, 6-5 Brian Bridgewater and 6-8 Jared Sam.