No. 2 Scotlandville (34-2) vs. No. 1 Natchitoches Central (32-3)
When: 8 p.m. Friday at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles
How they got here:
SCOTLANDVILLE: Beat John Curtis 76-38; beat New Iberia 82-65; beat St. Augustine 71-58; beat Ouachita Parish 60-45.
NATCHITOCHES CENTRAL: Beat St. Amant 75-40; beat Chalmette 53-45; beat H.L. Bourgeois 85-58, beat East Ascension 66-49.
Last state title: Scotlandville 2015; Natchitoches Central 2014
THE CASE FOR SCOTLANDVILLE: The Hornets are a solid bet because they’re in the 5A title game for an unprecedented seventh straight year and have won three of the past four state titles. Sophomore point guard Ja’Vonte Smart is one of nation’s top recruits for 2018, but the Hornets also have a strong supporting cast that includes 6-6 post player Garrick Green and guards Jordan Adebutu and Jaylen Hawkins. Can they impose their will defensively and make big shots on NCHS? That’s two key questions.
THE CASE FOR NATCHITOCHES CENTRAL: It is the third straight 5A final for the Chiefs. NCHS beat Scotlandville to win it in 2014, making the “rubber match” intriguing. NCHS’ 6-6 Brandon Rachal is a top prospect for 2017 and plays all positions on the floor. Austin Guy and point guard Brian White also play major roles. Watching Smart and Rachal will be fun, but the Guy vs. Green matchup also is pivotal. Two major questions: Will NCHS make enough outside shots and impose its will defensively on Scotlandville?