Class 1A championship goes old school with tradition-rich Southern Lab, Arcadia _lowres

Advocate photo by Buddy Delahoussaye-- Southern Lab's Tyler Panyanouvong dribbles the ball against Tensas in a Class 1A semifinal at the Boys Top 28 tournament on Tuesday at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.

The Class 1A championship game is going old school.

Forget about a throwback Thursday. Traditional powers Southern Lab and Arcadia are out to see who can throw it down best in the 1A title game that opens the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament Saturday.

“To me, games like this are what high school basketball is all about,” Southern Lab coach Devan Clark said. “Both schools have great basketball traditions and support. I’d like to think we both play the game the right way, with a lot of passion and determination.

“The chance for us to be on the big stage together again is special. It’s a great opportunity for both teams.”

Fourth-seeded Arcadia (25-5) sent a powerful message with its 54-47 upset of top-seeded Lafayette Christian on Thursday, the same day No. 3 Southern Lab (26-7) advanced with a 63-33 win over Tensas.

As unexpected as the matchup is, it appeals to 1A purists who remember when Southern Lab won 11 state titles in 13 years dating to 1993. The Kittens have the most state titles in LHSAA history with 15.

What’s surprising it that Arcadia has never won a state title, but has been a runner-up four times. The Hornets were semifinalists the past two years and the 1A runner-up to Country Day in 2013.

Back in the 1990s, Arcadia was one of the teams Southern Lab battled regularly for 1A supremacy. The Hornets were the runners-up to SLHS in 1996-97. They lost to the Kittens in the semifinals in 2000 and 2001.

Clark was a point guard for the SLHS teams in 1996-97. Arcadia’s Marcus Jackson also is a former player who was a title-game MVP for Athens in 1999. Their teams are perhaps more blue-collar than blue-chip.

“Perfection … that’s the only way to describe how well Arcadia executed its game plan for Lafayette Christian,” Clark said. “As a coach, you go in with a game plan, but you usually have breakdowns and have to make adjustments. They pretty much did what they wanted to do.”

Point guard Travious Fielding scored 24 points and made nine of 12 fourth-quarter free throws for Arcadia in its semifinal win. He averages 15.2 points per game, while Anthony Boston Jr. and 6-3 Danquarian Fields each average 15.4.

Southern Lab has just two seniors and is making its first tourney appearance since 2012. Dexter Dennis averages 14 points per game Deion Rainey adds 12 for the Kittens.

“For us, it has to be all about the team,” Clark said. “We’ll go 10 deep, and we need to get contributions from everyone. We don’t have a single kid with a basketball scholarship. What we do, we do together.”