Robin Fambrough: Have no fear, prep basketball season is here _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Scottlandville's Ja'Vonte Smart pushes past Natchitoches Central's Marquis King Friday during the Class 5A final in Lake Charles.

Football is, and has always been king in Louisiana.

But that all important battle to see who will be the kings of the hill in high school basketball began Monday.

Not able to get out a game this week? No worries, this show will go on into March if a talented group of Baton Rouge teams have their way.

When we last left our local contingent in Lake Charles, the site of the LHSAA’s Top 28 tournaments, there was plenty to celebrate.

University High had won its second straight Class 3A boys state title. The Cubs swept 3A titles for boys and girls for the second straight year.

Madison Prep claimed the 1A title, the Chargers’ second in three years, including a Class B championship. Scotlandville advanced to the boys 5A title game for the sixth year in a row and has won three of past four 5A titles.

Sure, last year’s Mr. Basketball, Madison Prep’s Brandon Sampson, is now across town at LSU. There are changes, but there is still plenty of talent.

U-High’s Wayde Sims, last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year, signed with LSU last week.

One player fans may be the most curious about is Scotlandville sophomore point guard Ja’Vonte Smart. Since helping the Hornets to the 5A title last spring, Smart has picked up a ton of scholarship offers and a gold medal from a stint with USA Basketball’s 16-and-under team.

Smart will be honored for his USA Basketball heroics before Scotlandville’s season opener against Mandeville on Wednesday night. And there’s one other thing to note — since last season Smart has grown an inch and is now 6-foot-4.

Madison Prep moves up to 2A with a decidedly different lineup. The Chargers’ Josh Anderson and Josh Leblanc will take on different roles.

Speaking of 2A, Episcopal graduated three starters after its run to the semifinals. What’s in store for the Knights, led by Christopher Beckman Jr.? It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

How will it play out for others, like Dunham in 2A and Southern Lab in 1A?

And let’s not forget the girls teams. U-High returns a solid nucleus led by Destiny Ephrom and point guard Kaila Anderson.

Walker High graduated a talented group of seniors from its 5A runner-up team. One of those seniors, Jamie Gibson, started for the University of Louisiana at Monroe against LSU on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats rebuild.

The Madison Prep girls also move to 2A and added some players from the final Redemptorist team that claimed a No. 4 playoff seed in 2A. Episcopal is another 2A team to watch. Southern Lab has LSU commitment Callen Williams, now a junior.

Ready to check out a game? I suspect you’re not alone.

Metro meeting moved

The weather-related change that pushed the second day of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Cross Country meet back to Wednesday also has prompted another change.

The All-Metro cross country selection meeting has been moved from Wednesday to 4 p.m. Thursday in the coaches’ office at Episcopal.

Shifting sites

Fourth-seeded Madison Prep (11-0) hosts No. 5 St. Charles Catholic (9-2) in Division III quarterfinal football playoff action at 7 p.m. Friday at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium.

The teams were originally going to play at Glen Oaks High, but opted to seek out Louisiana Leadership based on Tuesday’s forecast for heavy rain.