The buzz leading up to the fourth meeting between District 6-1A rivals Southern Lab and Madison Prep Academy produced a sellout crowd at Madison Prep and about 350 others who were turned away outside the gym.
For the ones lucky enough to have a seat, top-seeded Madison Prep put on another show. The Chargers won every quarter, including a 27-12 scoring advantage in the fourth, to defeat Southern Lab 68-44 in a Class 1A boys basketball quarterfinal game Friday night.
MPA (33-1), which has beaten its three playoff foes by a combined 124 points, advances to the Top 28 for the fourth straight season.
Madison Prep will battle No. 4 Country Day at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. It will be a rematch of last season’s Class 1A final, won by Country Day 50-47.
“It’s tough to beat a team four times,” said MPA coach Jeffrey Jones. “We made a little run at the end of first half to go up eight (26-18), and we picked up our effort and energy in the second half. Our seniors really came out strong in their final home game.”
Jalen Brown, a 6-foot-2 senior, led the Chargers with 20 points on 9 of 12 shooting. St. John commitment Brandon Sampson hit 6 of 8 shots for 12 points to go with six assists, six rebounds and three steals. Josh LeBlanc added 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots. Senior Christian Thompson scored all eight of his points in the second half and added seven assists and two steals.
It was the fourth time this season that MPA held Southern Lab (22-8) under 50 points scoring.
Southern Lab coach Devan Clark said his team had a good week of practice but didn’t execute the game plan.
“You have to play disciplined against Madison,” Clark said. “We got away from the game plan in the second quarter and the guys started doing their own thing. Madison Prep has a really good basketball team, and I think they’ll win state.”
Southern Lab trailed 20-18 with two minutes remaining in the first half. Sampson, Brown and Yuryk Lazard hit layups for MPA to end the half.
Southern Lab’s Bladrick Veal scored on a drive to cut the MPA lead to 32-27 with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter. The Chargers went on a 9-0 run. The Kittens executed an inbounds play and Sheldon Carroll hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 41-32 after three quarters. Carroll scored a team-high 13 points and Dexter Dennis added eight points.
Madison Prep ended the game on a 23-7 run. Sampson had a vicious tomahawk jam and Thompson had a steal at halfcourt that he jammed to bring the fans off their feet.
MPA forced Lab into 20 turnovers and the Chargers had just eight. MPA hit a sizzling 31 of 46 from the field.
“I was extremely proud of Jalen Brown scoring 20 points,” Jones said. “A lot of times he defers to our two standouts.”