METAIRIE — Most teams that faced Country Day this season shared a simple, yet daunting game plan — stop center Scott Plaisance.
Still, as fourth-seeded Metairie Park Country Day (25-10) prepares to play seventh-seeded Arcadia (30-8) Thursday night in the Class 1A boys basketball state championship game, the Cajuns’ 6-foot-9 center is preparing for one more round of extra attention at the University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
Country Day, a three-time state champion and five-time runner-up, won its last state title in 2009 — against Arcadia, which seeks its first championship.
Plaisance certainly is motivated to deliver the school’s first state title in the sport since 2009, sending teammate Morgan LeCorgne, a power forward, off to college with championship memories.
“It means a lot. Giving our only senior a state title would be great,” said Plaisance, who averages 15.8 points per game. “And for all of our young players, the experience would be great as well.”
Not that Arcadia plans to make it that easy. Like Country Day, Arcadia advanced to the title game by winning its 1A semifinal in overtime. Arcadia overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force the extra period, where they defeated third-seeded North Central 54-48.
“It looked like it was about to slip away,” Arcadia coach Marcus Jackson said. “We made a little run with about four minutes to go. We had to have that run. Everything had to go right. They turned it over, and we made shots to put us in that situation.”
Country Day advanced to the finals by defeating top-seeded Christian Life, 43-41 in overtime.
Now, Arcadia prepares to face Plaisance, literally its biggest challenge of the season. Center Antoine Baker (6-4) will handle the duties, with his teammates supporting his defensive effort, in an attempt to crowd Plaisance.
Nothing new for Country Day.
“Scott is our main weapon right now,” said Country Day coach Mike McGuire. “He’s been playing really well, at a high level. They’re going to want to start there. If Scott goes for a big night, they could be in trouble.
“And if Baker has a big night, we could be in trouble.”
It’s also hard for teams to commit to double-teaming Plaisance because of Country Day’s outside shooting, from J.C. Younger (14.7 ppg) to Kent McGuire (11.1 ppg), McGuire’s son, to Michael Corchiani, who this season has scored 21 points in the first half of a game.
Arcadia shooting guard Eric Brown leads his team in scoring, averaging 15 points. Baker is second (14 ppg, 12 rebounds per game).
Country Day will likely employ a zone defense against Arcadia, a strategy which LeCorgne said has improved as players learned how to communicate.
“Now it’s just second nature,” he said. “Now, it’s one of our stronger points.”
That, and Plaisance.