LAKE CHARLES — Marsh Madness?
Yes there is such a thing, and the first week of state basketball tournament action at Burton Coliseum was good.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 attracted a respectable 15,148 fans through Friday’s finals. Reaching 20,000 might be a stretch, but I’ll take a number close to it. And yes, the games were good.
But the real test comes next week when the Boys Top 28 begins Tuesday. No one could predict the unprecedented drop in attendance the boys tournament had a year ago.
The tournament draw has a lot to do with how many fans come and so does the proximity of the site to the schools that advance. Neither combination was good last year, the tourney’s first in Lake Charles.
Only one Lake Charles school, St. Louis Catholic, is in the tourney mix this time. Will fans for the seven New Orleans teams and five Baton Rouge teams come?
A lot may be riding on attendance this week for the Lake Charles host committee, which plans to bid for both tournaments again this summer. It will be interesting to see who the other bidders are.
The inability to draw fans is the one major drawback to putting the LHSAA’s basketball tournaments somewhere other than the central part of the state. However, Hammond beat the odds for years based on the area’s girls basketball tradition.
New Executive Director Eddie Bonine was on site as part of his first official week on the job. Bonine praised the organization of the event, work of the LHSAA staff and the tourney hosts.
Will the reviews be as good or better next week? It’s possible, especially if those attendance numbers go up.
The LHSAA has set a sportsmanship hearing for 9 a.m. April 8 to address the altercation that took place during last week’s regional boys basketball game between Albany and Evangel Christian.
Five Albany players were ejected and Albany declined the option to continue the game with its five remaining players. Evangel was leading by 12 points when the game was stopped with 3:24 remaining. ECA was awarded the forfeit and lost to John Curtis in the quarterfinals.
Beckman’s big night
Episcopal coach Chris Beckman and his family had quite a night Friday. Beckman won his 500th game as the Class 2A Knights beat Rapides 55-45 to advanced the Boys Top 28 for the first time since 2011.
Junior guard Chris Beckman Jr. scored his 1,000th point during the game and now has 1,006 points in just two seasons of varsity basketball.
LHSBCA Hall of Fame
The Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association is set to induct former coaches Clyde Briley, Billy Montgomery and Dale Skinner into its Hall of Fame on March 20 in Shreveport in conjunction with the LHSCA All-Star games.
Briley coached at Midland, while Montgomery coached at Haughton and Skinner is perhaps best know for his coaching stint at DeRidder.
The LHSBCA news release notes the trio “promoted the sport more than any combination of men in the state’s history. Together they have played on State Championship teams, coached State Championship teams, served as Principals of schools that won State Championships, served as Superintendents of Parishes that won State Championships and even officiated State Championship games.”
A year after Hosanna Christian closed, the school’s last boys basketball coach, Randy Carlisle, won a state championship.
Carlisle coached Summerfield to the Class C girls basketball title Friday. His Summerfield boys team played New Living Word in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Counting that game, Carlisle coached 74 games this season.
Michael Danna, director of Public Relations for Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, died last week. Danna, the host of Farm Bureau’s television show “This Week in Louisiana Agriculture,” battled cancer twice in recent years.
I met Danna when he was part of The Advocate’s crew taking high school football results over the phone on Friday nights. He will be missed.