Gators take on Spartans at the Gold Dome _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- St. Amant coach Travis Uzee speaks with his players during a timeout against East Ascension during a January game at St. Amant High School's Gold Dome.

St. Amant High boys basketball coach Travis Uzee can point proudly to his team’s accomplishments, including five District 5-5A wins and victories in 11 of its final 17 games.

But the Gators (19-14) claimed their greatest accomplishment — a playoff berth as a No. 32 seed in Class 5A — when the LHSAA released its boys basketball playoff pairings on Monday. SAHS travels to play No. 1 Natchitoches Central (27-3) at 7 p.m. Friday to open the playoffs

“We’ve got a very young team this year and took some lumps along the way,” Uzee said. “Making the playoffs was always a goal, and there was a point when I wasn’t sure that was.

“This is my third year and the first time we’ve made the playoffs since I’ve been here. Obviously, there are reasons why Natchitoches Central is seeded No. 1. It’s great to have this chance.”

Class 2A Madison Prep (29-5), last year’s 1A state champion, was the only local team to claim a No. 1 seed. Class 5A Scotlandville (30-2) and 3A University High (26-4) are No. 2 seeds and both are defending state champions.

St. Thomas More (22-6) in 4A, Peabody (27-0) in 3A, Lafayette Christian (27-2) in 1A, Simsboro (28-7) in Class B and Elizabeth (24-5) in Class C are the other top seeds. Most games are at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Based on the way things fell, we knew it,” MPA coach Jeff Jones said of the No. 1 seed. “Riverside (defending 2A champion) conceded the first-place power ratings point to Country Day in district, and that pretty much assured it.

“It’s all about getting the best position you can on the bracket for your team, which is what Riverside did. Right now, we’re focused on nothing but (No. 32) Loreauville.”

Class 1A Southern Lab (22-8) grabbed a No. 3 seed, while Episcopal (28-6) got the fifth seed in Class 2A.

Baton Rouge placed three or more teams in the playoffs in each class with the exception of 4A, where No. 9 Plaquemine (22-6) and No. 27 St. Michael (16-12) made it. District 6-4A runner-up Tara finished 33rd and one spot out of the playoffs.

Another 5A team, Walker (22-9) got its first playoff home game in 15 years based on a No. 16 playoff seed and hosts No. 17 Chalmette. The scenario is similar to last week when the WHS girls just missed hosting a game as a No. 17 seed and then lost to No. 16 Helen Cox on the road.

“Getting the chance to host a home game means a lot for us,” Walker coach Anthony Schiro said. “Getting the chance to play at home does give you an advantage.”

There is just one all-local matchup. No. 24 Zachary (19-11) travels to play No. 9 McKinley (24-8) in a game that matches teams from different local 5A districts.

“Going into the game Friday, we figured it would either be McKinley or H.L. Bourgeois,” first-year ZHS coach Jonathan McClinton said. “We play in such a tough district, and that obviously helped us. We had some adversity to overcome early in the year, and we’re playing our best right now. We’re excited about the opportunity.”