Eighth-seeded Doyle extended its string of successful late-season girls basketball to eight wins in its past nine games, complete with a 60-33 victory last Thursday over Hannan in the opening round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
The Tigers began their preparations for ninth-seeded Red River, complete with an energetic practice on Sunday for Monday’s regional.
Because of a wintry mix that closed a large number of schools in the northern part of the state — including Red River’s home in Coushatta — that game has been in a holding pattern.
“We were super excited after Sunday’s practice,” Doyle coach Samantha White said. “Then the game was postponed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s been a little bit of a roller-coaster ride, but Red River’s had to go through the same thing.”
After a week in between games Doyle (19-12) gets the chance to face Red River (22-7) Thursday with the Class 2A state regional set for Doyle Elementary at 6 p.m.
Walker and White Castle have had the good fortune of remaining within their normal three-day routines in between playoff wins.
The No. 2 Wildcats (29-5) travel to No. 7 Natchitoches Central (24-9) at 6:30 in a Class 5A state quarterfinal, while No. 6 White Castle (21-11) visits District 8-1 rival No. 3 West St. John (26-5) at 6:30 in a Class 1A quarterfinal.
“This should be a highly contested game,” Walker coach Korey Arnold said. “We’ve got to go there, so it will be a hostile environment.
“We’ve talked to the kids about what to expect and what they have to do. They just have to play.”
White Castle’s visit to West St. John represents the third meeting with the league’s top two teams splitting games. The Bulldogs avenged a 52-32 loss at the Rams on Jan. 11 with a 36-35 home victory on Feb. 3.
“It’s hard to plan for them after playing them twice,” White Castle coach Tammy Pierce said. “We know each other pretty well, so it’s going to be who comes to play and who steps up and is mentally prepared.”
Doyle relies on the scoring of sophomore point guard Madison Watts and senior center Belle Raymer, with both averaging 15 points.
Red River, the District 1-2A champion, enters with a nine-game win streak after blasting No. 24 Rosepine, 67-29.
“We’ve had time to prepare, however, we are anxious to play,” White said. “We’re trying to keep that focus, and the girls have done a good job. It’s been frustrating really wanting to play.”
White Castle made short work of No. 11 Madison Prep 55-28 Monday night but realizes the scope of the challenge in front of them in having to defeat West St. John on the road.
Twins Skylar (17 points) and Shylar O’Bear (16 points) are the team’s top scorers.
“It’s tough to going over there, and we have never played very well on their home court,” Pierce said. “It’s kind of a rival game, and it means so much. We’re looking forward to it.”
Walker gets another opportunity to defeat Natchitoches Central after losing to the Chiefs 46-42 in the West Monroe tournament on Dec. 29.
The Wildcats were in control, holding a 15-point lead late in the third quarter before losing senior point guard Kasie Fountain to a torn meniscus.
Fountain is back and one of four double-digit scorers with 13.6 points per game, trailing senior center Jamie Gibson’s 20.7.
“The kids are excited,” said Arnold, whose team is bidding for a second straight trip to the quarterfinals. “They understand we’ve got to play better and a little smarter than we did the other nigh,t and I think we’re more than capable of doing that.”