Episcopal probably wouldn’t pass the Class 2A eye test.
The Knights aren’t a physically imposing presence like traditional power Riverside Academy or other top 2A teams like Lakeview and North Caddo.
Coach Chris Beckman’s team just keeps passing the game test — over and over.
The Knights (28-2) have set a school record with 21 straight wins.
Getting a top-three seed in 2A when the LHSAA releases its playoff pairings on Monday should garner some respect. Who needs respect, especially when you’ve got motivation and chemistry?
“We didn’t have as good a district season as we thought we should last year,” leading scorer Spencer Kleinpeter said. “We knew we were better than the way we played.
“Now we went to the quarterfinals for the second straight year, which was good. But it was tough to be so close to the state tournament and not make it there. Last year … it definitely motivates us.”
With defending Class 3A state champion University High (28-4) and 1A power Madison Prep (29-1) garnering lots of the attention, it’s easy to see how the Knights could be overlooked. But not outworked or outhustled.
“This has been a great group to coach because they did come back with a chip on their shoulders,” Beckman said. “When we lost in the quarterfinals last year it wasn’t just the seniors crying afterward. We had juniors and sophomores crying.
“It showed how much they cared and that made me think we had a chance to be good this year. Did I expect us to be 28-2? No.
“They learned from the losses and understand that you can lose on any given night.”
The 5-foot-10 Kleinpeter, a Cornell football signee, leads the Knights with an 18.7 scoring average while Chris Beckman Jr. adds 17.1. The two guards combine to average 12 assists per game. Kevin Tripeaux, a 6-4 sophomore, averages 10.3 points while senior Jerry Dunbar is the defensive stopper.
“Spencer and I knew we’d have to score more and we also needed to be facilitators,” Chris Beckman Jr. said. “That’s evolved, going back to the summer. We’ve gotten closer off the court too. We’ll go out to eat or hang out together as a team.
“To give you an example, most people probably don’t see me and Spencer as friends. But we go out to eat and we’ll talk. We look to find ways to get better.”
Episcopal hasn’t lost since dropping a game to Class 3A E.D. White Catholic at the St. Martin’s tournament on Dec. 20. EHS’ other loss was to another 3A team, Westlake.
With 21 straight wins, the Knights might look like a high seed that is ripe for the taking when the playoffs open Friday. The elder Beckman has seen it happen before and even cited last week’s loss by their fourth-seeded Redemptorist girls team in the first round as an example.
Kleinpeter doesn’t see the Knights getting complacent or being overly confident.
“Last year I think we got caught up in making it to the state tournament before we got there,” Kleinpeter said. “You have to focus on every game. The only thing we’re worried about is being the best team in the next game we play.”