University High basketball coach Joe Spencer is quite familiar with the prowess of the Monroe-area District 2-3A.
A year ago, the Cubs knocked off a talented Richwood team 69-64 en route to the Class 3A state championship.
In order for the opportunity to return to the Top 28 tournament, No. 1 University (29-3) will have to get through a team from the same district at home with No. 16 Madison Parish (21-9) providing the opposition in a Class 3A state regional Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“We expect a hard-fought, tough game,” Spencer said. “They come from a really good district. They’re well balanced with some really good post players and guards. We’re expecting a good game.”
The U-High-Madison Parish encounter represents one of 16 state regional contests that 18 local/area teams will be taking part in.
For the second straight year, St. Michael the Archangel is headed on the road in a Class 4A second-round game with the No. 10 Warriors (25-6) set to face No. 7 Leesville (24-6) at 7 p.m.
St. Michael fell 60-51 at St. Thomas More, the eventual state semifinalist.
“We have some veteran guys that are ready for the moment,” St. Michael coach Drew Hart said. “It will come down to staying composed. “If we can score the ball the way we did against Bolton (in a 72-56 win), we’re going to have a really good shot.”
If last Friday’s 28-point playoff win was any indication, first-year Southern Lab coach Devan Clark likes the direction of his youthful eight-seeded team (21-7) heading into Tuesday’s Class 1A regional against No. 9 Delhi (18-12) at 6 o’clock at Southern’s Seymour Gym.
“With a young team, it’s a matter of gelling and getting everybody together,” Clark said. “It took a little while, but hopefully we’ve started to do that.”
Madison Parish, previously known as Class 3A power McCall before consolidation, tied for third in 2-3A behind No. 2 Rayville and No. 14 Carroll. The Jaguars had lost three of their past five games before opening the playoffs with a 67-47 win over No. 17 Ville Platte.
U-High, led by D.J. White’s 20 points, responded from a tightly contested first quarter (16-10) to distance itself from No. 32 Lusher Charter 69-42.
“Still the biggest areas for us: doing a good job playing defense and doing a good job on the glass,” Spencer said. “Just limiting teams to one shot and not giving them multiple opportunities on a possession.”
St. Michael has built a healthy résumé this season, equaling the second most wins in school history with 25. They would like to add to that list of exploits with the first trip to the Class 4A quarterfinals and second since 1996.
“I’m really proud of these kids’ accomplishments and hope they’re able to bring their ‘A’ game,” Hart said. “If they do it’s going to be a great game and it may come down to the end like it did at (60-51 regional loss) St. Thomas More.”
Southern Lab, which has won six of its past eight games, takes on a Delhi team that won the District 2-1A title, has won 12 of its last 13 games and scored 70 or more points seven times.
Senior Jordan Booker, who scored 20 in his team’s playoff win, leads the Kittens with a 12.5 average.
“They’re a really good team that gets up and down and puts a lot of pressure on you with a trapping style,” Clark said. “They like to get out and run, so we’ll have our work cut out for us.”