The Jehovah-Jireh boys basketball team is a young team with plenty of playoff experience. Grand Isle is an older team playing its first second-round playoff game in six years. Neither team has lost to another Class C program this season.
Something has to give Tuesday night.
The No. 6 Warriors and the No. 11 Trojans face off in the second round of the Class C playoffs at 7:30 p.m. at the Baton Rouge Charter Academy.
“It’s the next game on our schedule,” Jehovah-Jireh coach Dirk Ricks said. “We try to take it one game at a time, and we have to win this game in order to make it to the next round.”
The key for the fast-paced offense the Warriors like to run will be getting the ball into the hands of sophomore small forward Trenton Payne, who leads the team with close to 23 points per game, and sophomore shooting guard Donald Johnson III, who averages about 20 points.
As sophomores, Payne and Johnson are two of the oldest players on a Jehovah-Jireh squad that features only one junior and no seniors.
But what the Warriors lack in age, they make up for with game experience, returning most of last year’s quarterfinal team.
Jehovah-Jireh also has the confidence of a team that hasn’t lost since December, running a 15-game win streak.
“It’s one game at a time,” Ricks said. “We’re confident in ourselves that, as long as we play well, we should be able to accomplish each and every one of our goals.”
A coach who knows plenty about basketball in Baton Rouge is on the other sideline. Grand Isle’s Denny Wright, coached Class 4A Plaquemine High to two Top 28 appearances. Wright doesn’t feel as if his team is coming into the game as underdogs, and even if it is, he’s confident in its ability to fight through the game after all seven of the Trojans’ losses finishing with less than a 12-point deficit.
Grand Isle will mostly rely on the skills of junior forward David McCurley (16 points, 10 rebounds) and senior guard Cyrus Billiot (12 ppg.) to put them into the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2010.
But arguably one of the biggest factors standing in the way of the Trojans is the almost-three-hour drive to Baton Rouge. Fortunately, Grand Isle has more than enough experience with long bus rides.
“We travel about two and a half hours one way when we go play most of our games,” Wright said. “It’s a challenge, but this group has been at it for three or four years now.”
Second-seeded University High (27-4) takes a 15-game winning streak into its 3A second-round game with District 6-3A rival Brusly (21-8), a No. 15 seed.
Class 5A Scotlandville (31-2) and 2A Madison Prep (30-5) each have 13-game winning streaks. Scotlandville, also No. 2 seed, hosts No. 15 New Iberia. MPA, the top seed in 2A, hosts No. 16 Newman.
Glen Oaks (20-11) is one of the area’s lowest remaining seeds. The 3A Panthers host No. 4 Wossman of Monroe.