Runnels looking to stay ahead in District 7-2A _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK Southern Lab's Bladrick Veal lays on the court under the goal in pain after suffering an injuryagainst Madison Prep on Friday at Southern University's F.G. Clark Activity Center.

“There’s no place like home” is a cliché that’s been used countless times.

Runnels boys basketball coach Ben Young and his team are using it one more time while looking to stay at the front of the line in District 7-2A race.

“We’ve played four of our five district games so far at home,” Young said. “There’s nothing like playing at home in high school sports because you can get your crowd there behind you. It’s special.

“Obviously, we know it’s going to be tough in the second round because we’ll have to play more on the road. We need to take advantage of the games we have at home.”

The Raiders (13-10, 4-0) host French Settlement (11-10, 0-5) for a 7-2A game set for about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Runnels is coming of an 81-77 road win over St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday. The Raiders’ game highlights Tuesday’s games in the Baton Rouge area.

Young, a former Runnels player now in his fifth year as head coach, came into the year looking to challenge his seven seniors.

“I made our schedule tougher because I felt like those (seniors) needed the challenge,” Young said. “We took some lumps early. The thing I’ve been most pleased by is our balance.

“In the past, we’d have one or two guys scoring most of the points. This year we’ve got four or five guys who can score.”

Golf standout Grant Welch leads the Raiders with 13.0 scoring average. Jacob Sparks is at 12.0, followed by point guard Hampton Hudson at 11.0 and Thomas Myers at 9.0. Both Welch and Sparks stand 6-foot-2.

Young said he doesn’t expect his team to look past a French Settlement team that has lost several close games in 7-2A play.

“I’ve been pleased with our defense the last couple of games,” Young said. “It’s a big reason why we’re unbeaten in district. We’ve got to keep playing that way.”

Veal on mend

It didn’t look good when Southern Lab’s Bladrick Veal had to be helped off the court during the second half of the Kittens’ game against Madison Prep on Friday. The good news is the injury was not as serious as it first looked.

SLHS coach Devan Clark said Veal suffered a combination hamstring/calf injury and not a knee injury. The 6-foot-5 junior missed several games early in the year after being injured in Division IV football title game.

Football commitments

Plaquemine lineman Jodeci Harris and Parkview Baptist defensive back Josh Stansell are among the latest local football players to commit to colleges.

Harris committed to Southern University over the weekend, while Stansell committed to Henderson State.

Stansell helped Parkview finish as the Division II state runner-up, while Harris helped Plaquemine to the Class 4A semifinals.

A college milestone

Former Denham Springs girls basketball player Keisha Lee scored her 1,000th career point last week for Northwestern State.

Lee also recorded her 100th career steal in a game against Nicholls State.