Boys basketball pairings set _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Zachary coach Kenny Almond speaks with Demoine Bowie on the sidelines against McKinley in the EBR Parish tournament Dec. 27.

Zachary boys basketball coach Kenny Almond channeled a little Yogi Berra when asked about the LHSAA’s boys basketball playoff pairings that were released Monday.

“You never know who you’ve got until you find out who you’ve got,” Almond said. “Things change after those last games are played in the (power) rankings. That’s why I never really look too closely at who we’re supposed to play until the pairings come out.”

So three days after Almond contemplated a trip to play District 4-5A rival Scotlandville to open the Class 5A playoffs, he was planning a very different trip — one to the Monroe area. ZHS (16-13), a No. 28 seed, faces No. 5 Ouachita Parish at 7 p.m. Friday.

There were no major surprises for Baton Rouge area teams when the LHSAA released its pairings just after noon Monday.

Class 3A University High (28-4) and 1A Madison Prep (29-1) claimed No. 1 seeds as expected. Class 5A Scotlandville (28-4) and 2A Episcopal (28-2) grabbed No. 2 seeds.

Plaquemine (23-6) garnered a No. 4 seed in Class 4A. Zachary was one of two No. 28 seeds from the BR area. Class B Maurepas also claimed a No. 28 seed.

Some teams moved up or down in the final LHSAA power rankings based on a couple of factors. Whether or not a team won its Friday game was one factor. The extra point added for teams that won district titles was the other.

Almond noted Scotlandville’s move up from a projected fifth seed late last week was directly related to its 4-5A title. Conversely, Ouachita dropped from No. 2 to No. 5 after losing its District 2-5A finale to top-seeded Natchitoches Central.

Second-seeded Helen Cox and No. 4 St. Augustine also got a boost in the final rankings based on district titles.

The 2A bracket provides some intrigue in the first and second rounds. Eighth-seeded Runnels (18-12), the District 7-2A champion, faces a flashback. The Raiders host East Feliciana (14-13), a former rival in 6-2A.

Third-seeded Episcopal hosts No. 30 Haynes Academy at 6:30 p.m. Friday and could face rival Dunham (19-10) in the regional round. The 14th-seeded Tigers host No. 19 Sterlington to open the playoffs.

“It’s hard to beat any team three times in one season and we’ve already beaten Dunham twice,” EHS coach Chris Beckman said. “But first we have to beat Haynes, a team that won a district title. There are no guarantees.”

The only all-local bidistrict matchup is No. 24 Parkview Baptist (15-13) at No. 9 Port Allen (24-7), a matchup of 7-3A rivals.

Top-seeded U-High has set its game with No. 32 Lusher Charter at 7 p.m. Friday. Madison Prep hosts St. Mary’s-Natchitoches at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“For the last month you pretty much knew how it was going to pan out,” MPA coach Jeff Jones said of the 1A bracket. “We’re getting ready for St. Mary’s on Friday and the mindset going in is not who we play but how we play. You still want to take care of the ball, you still want to hustle, still want to defend and do things the right way.

“Those things will carry over, and after Friday, it’s the usual suspects the White Castles, Southern Labs, Arcadias and Country Days. We’ve got to keep preparing for it game by game.”