Brusly, U-High girls set for showdown _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Brusly girls basketball coach Shaeeta Williams: 'It’s really not just another game. That’s what you want to say as a coach, but we do understand the stakes and we still want to approach it like we do every game with heart, intensity and being aggressive. We’re trying to keep our feet grounded.'

Brusly girls basketball coach Shaeeta Williams tried her best to stay in character and provide the typical stock answer.

But not even the ultra-competitive Williams could accomplish that, putting the significance of Friday’s road clash at University High into its proper perspective.

“It’s really not just another game,” Williams said. “That’s what you want to say as a coach, but we do understand the stakes and we still want to approach it like we do every game with heart, intensity and being aggressive. We’re trying to keep our feet grounded.”

It’s been just over three weeks since Brusly stunned reigning Class 3A state champion University, taking a 60-51 victory in a game the Panthers led from start to finish.

The Cubs (21-2, 7-1) get an opportunity to avenge that defeat and maintain a share of the District 7-3A lead when they host the Panthers (18-7, 7-1) at approximately 6:15 p.m.

“We look forward to the challenge,” U-High coach Bonita Johnson said. “We rather the challenging games than the ones that are not. I think the girls look forward to playing games like this when their competitive edge can come out.”

While the District 7-3A race is nearing its finish, the boys District 7-B competition will heat up in a hurry with long-time rivals Family Christian Academy (13-16, 1-0) facing Jehovah-Jireh (18-7) at Baton Rouge Charter School at 7:15 p.m.

“The two schools have a real good tradition against each other and always seem to play well,” Jehovah-Jireh coach Dirk Ricks, who team opened league play Thursday against Louisiana School for the Deaf. “They’ve won the last seven or eight, so we’ve got to do a better job of going out and competing to break that streak.”

BRUSLY VS. U-HIGH: U-High has won its five games since its loss to Brusly. Those two teams hold a half-game lead over Parkview Baptist (18-6, 6-1) in the district standings.

The Cubs will also have a familiar face back in their rotation with senior Alanie Fisher back from a torn ACL this summer. She scored 16 points off the bench in her team’s 60-8 win over Baker.

U-High, top-ranked in this week’s unofficial Class 3A power ratings, feature a balanced lineup led by forward Destiny Ephrom (16 points), guards Kaila Anderson (12) and Mikayla Bates (11.3) and center Mary Grace Constantin (10).

“It (the loss) gave us a chance to know that we have a target on our back, and that it’s never going to go away,” Johnson said. “We have to be prepared and ready for every team and be ready to play every night.”

Three days after its win over U-High, Brusly suffered a 49-43 road loss to Parkview. The Panthers have responded with five wins in dominating fashion.

Caitlyn Williams’ 12-point average tops Brusly’s scoring with Shandricka Pierson averaging 11 and Madison LaPrarie, who scored 20 in the first meeting with U-High, adding 10 per game.

“That was a tough week to play the way we did against U-High and then a bit of a letdown going to Parkview,” Williams said. “I felt we’ve learned from it all and approach each game with the same intensity.”

FAMILY CHRISTIAN VS. JEHOVAH-JIREH: Both teams were off to torrid starts — FCA at 7-0 and Jehovah-Jireh at 7-1 — before a stretch of difficult nondistrict games against larger schools.

FCA lost twice to both St. Michael the Archangel, Port Allen and Ascension Catholic along with losses to Donaldsonville, Dunham and East Iberville.

“I’m not trying to be arrogant, but I feel like we’ll be the district champs,” FCA coach James Holmes said. “We’ve played against (St. Michael’s) Jacob Evans and we played Port Allen and had to check Nigel Allen and Ishmael Lane. We’re battle tested.”

Six-foot-two senior forward Quiante Scott leads FCA with an 18.7 scoring average with help from sophomore center Cameron Crump (13.0). JJC features a lineup with three players — senior Jeremiah Griffin and freshmen Donald Johnson III and Trenton Payne — averaging 15 points apiece.

“We have matured as the year has gone along,” Ricks said. “Right now we should be at a point where we can totally trust and depend on each other.”