University High School coach Joe Spencer still considers his team to be a work in progress in some ways. Most coaches consider the LHSAA’s power rankings to be much the same thing.
Those notions should make the next couple of days interesting as the coaches and teams prepare for the release of the LHSAA boys basketball playoff pairings on Monday.
“To be honest with you, I don’t look at them that closely,” Spencer said of the power rankings. “I just glance at them. It seems like there’s always something that changes them right before the brackets come out, so I just wait.
“Right now I’m pleased with where we are. We’ve improved our defense and our rebounding, but the thing we’ve talk about is that it’s a one-game season now. Lose and you’re out. It’s something we talk about.”
But first, you have to get into the playoffs and hopefully get a favorable seeding position. The defending Class 3A champion Cubs (28-4) are likely the top seed in 3A and would play J.S. Clark, pending results of Friday’s games.
Some coaches anticipate changes, including Catholic High’s Mark Cascio. The Bears (21-7) clinched the District 5-5A title with a 43-40 win over East Ascension on Thursday.
“We won Thursday, so all our points were factored in to what was released (Friday) by the LHSAA,” Cascio said. “We’re at No. 12 and even if we do drop I still think we’ll be in the top 16 and get to host a game.
“Now who we’ll play, I don’t know. Everyone in 5A is so close and it’s competitive. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Carlos Sample of District 4-5A champion Scotlandville (27-4) said he feels the same way. The Hornets are currently seeded fifth in 5A and could play 4-5A rival Zachary in the bidistrict round.
“You’ve got teams all over the state that will surprise some people,” Sample said. “I think Ruston is one and Central Lafourche … they’re another. There aren’t going to be any easy draws.”
Even though his team lost to 1A Iberville Parish rival White Castle on Friday, Plaquemine coach Donald Ray Johnson still said he believes his team has a good shot at a No. 3 seed in Class 4A.
“We’ll drop a little with the loss to a 1A team, but we’ll go up once our point as district champions is factored in,” Johnson said. “I still think we can be a three seed and I’m not sure it matters who we play because 4A is always so competitive.
“Every year I think 4A is the most competitive class and I think we have a chance to win it. The White Castle game helped prepare us for that.”
Episcopal (28-2) figures to be a No. 3 seed in the tough Class 2A bracket led by traditional power Riverside Academy. EHS coach Chris Beckman believes Riverside, Lakeview and North Caddo are the teams to beat even though the Knights have won 21 straight.
“I’m pleased with where we are, but I believe Riverside, Lakeview and North Caddo are the top three to beat,” Beckman said. “We feel good about going unbeaten in district. Our losses were to two quality teams, (3A) Westlake and E.D. White. We know we can’t take anyone for granted.”
Like U-High, Madison Prep (29-1) is locked in the as the number No. 1 seed in 1A, ahead of Arcadia, Lafayette Christian and Metairie Park Country Day.
“The top four have been set for a while,” MPA coach Jeffery Jones said. “The focus now is getting ready to play each round.”
Cancienne’s big shot
Catholic’s Sam Cancienne Jr. is normally the defensive stopper. But it was Cancienne who gave the Bears the boost they needed by making a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in Thursday’s win over East Ascension.
“Toliver (Freeman) is usually the guy who leads us in scoring,” Cascio said. “We’re known as a team that shoots the 3-pointer well. Sam is one of those guys who can do that. It was great to see him come through in such a big situation.”