Two teams that were part of the same district in Class 4A a year ago are set to meet on Tuesday night for a much-anticipated nondistrict boys basketball game.
Istrouma (4-0), a co-champion of District 7-4A a year ago, hosts McKinley (2-1), which moved up to Class 5A this season.
As if there wasn’t enough drama already, two other facts make the contest set for approximately 7 p.m. at Istrouma unique.
First, the Indians eliminated McKinley in the first round of the 4A playoffs last season, notching a 63-51 win. The player who led Istrouma in scoring in that game, 6-foot-3 Darius Johnson, has transferred and is now a starter for McKinley roster.
An ankle injury suffered during a holiday tournament last week in Shreveport may keep Johnson from playing in the Tuesday showdown. But the rivalry alone makes the McKinley-Istrouma game a highlight on a busy night of nondistrict boys and girls games in the Baton Rouge metro area.
“It’s a nondistrict game and it’s early, but there’s already been a lot of talk about this game,” Istrouma coach Marvin Dotson said. “We’ve got a number of guys back. There are things we definitely need to improve on.
“We missed a number of open shots we shouldn’t have. There’s plenty of work for us to do.”
The 4A Indians won the White Castle Tournament last week and return a lineup led by 6-foot-4 Jamarcus Weatherspoon, who is averaging 20 points per game.
Marquise Kaigler (6-5) is at 11 points per game, while 6-0 Devin Bethely has taken on a lead role as a first-year starter.
Darryl Milburn (6-2) was the top scorer for McKinley last season. The 6-3 Johnson joins a lineup that features two other 6-2 returnees, Garrick Mayweather and Brenden Willis.
“We’re taking a different approach to a lot of things this year,” McKinley coach T.J. Pugh said. “Our motto is ?Let’s get better’ and that’s something we want to do every day.
“We don’t have a lot of height. Team chemistry is something we’re still working to develop. The key thing for us is execution.”
Inner City honors
Capitol’s Fredricka Wilson was selected as the Most Valuable Player for the Inner City Classic girls tournament held at Istrouma last week.
Other members of the all-tournament team were Scotlandville’s Kenya Dixon, Broadmoor’s Kianna Bobo, Tara’s Terralyn Dominick, East Iberville’s Kaitlyn Knight and Darneisha McCallister of Capitol.