Country Day more guard-oriented than in past without tall player in the post _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Country Day coach Mike McGuire congratulates Michael Corchiani after he was honored for his play against Madison Prep in last season's victory in the Class 1A championship game last season.

This year’s Metairie Park Country Day basketball team might not look quite like the ones of recent years.

There is no longer an intimidating presence in the middle like Scott Plaisance or Eddie Ludwig.

“For the first time in 11 years, we don’t have a kid who is at 6-9,” said Cajuns coach Mike McGuire. “We rely heavily on our guards now. Not having the shot blocker in there is different, but our guard play is really good.”

McGuire is hoping that guard play can help his team over the next few days as it hosts the Country Day Classic.

The 14-team tournament starts Friday and ends Tuesday.

It is the 16th year of the tournament that returns after a one-year hiatus because of a conflict with the exam schedule.

John Curtis won the tournament in 2011 and 2012 and will go for a third straight in a loaded field.

Country Day is the reigning Class 1A state champion, while University High is the reigning 3A state champion.

“I think it’s one of the strongest fields we have had in years,” McGuire said. “St. Thomas More is always good and was champs two years ago. Scotlandville and St. Thomas Aquinas are there every year. We have a lot of quality teams.”

Although the tournament begins Friday, Country Day will play its first game of the tournament against Florien on Saturday.

Country Day enters with a 3-1 record and is trying to replace two starters from last year’s state championship team: Plaisance (now at Louisiana-Lafayette) and Kent McGuire, the coach’s son.

“Kent was that calming factor, and Scott was an all-state player who gave us that inside presence,” McGuire said.

Walker Bright, 6-foot-4, has stepped in at center.

“Walker plays really hard and really smart,” McGuire said.

Bright is joined in the starting lineup by junior guards J.C. Younger, Trey Harrell, Michael Corchiani and sophomore guard Romin Williams.

Junior guard McColl Simons provides valuable minutes off the bench for the Cajuns, whose lone loss came in the final seconds against McDonogh 35 in the Newman Tournament. The three wins came against Easton, Cohen and Baker (Ala.).

“I felt like we played really well in the Newman tournament, except we didn’t finish well against McDonogh 35,” McGuire said. “We are starting to get into shape. We had six football players that came out late, and we are starting to come together as a team. I am hoping this tournament and with us going out of state for a tournament next and then playing in the Sugar Bowl Tournament that we will find a good rotation.”