Denham Springs coach Wynn Wingate sees it. Port Allen’s Brandon Ricard, The Dunham School’s Jonathan Pixley and St. Michael the Archangel’s Drew Hart say they have seen it too,
The “it” thing for boys basketball in Baton Rouge is parity in 2015. The coaches think that’s a good thing.
Consider this point: Denham Springs (15-4, 1-0) hosts Broadmoor (11-6, 1-0) for a key District 4-5A game at about 7:30 p.m. Friday. Scotlandville (16-4, 1-0) is again the 4-5A favorite but the gap between the top teams in the rest of the district appears to be shrinking.
“This is the most balance I’ve seen in years,” Wingate said. “The last couple of years you couldn’t get enough power points in district. Being .500 in district didn’t cut it if you wanted to make the playoffs.
“This year is different. Broadmoor is much improved. Our game with Live Oak (Tuesday) was close.
Central always plays well this time of the year. Zachary is athletic, and Walker, with the zone defense they play, can beat some people. Every night should be a challenge.”
Parity doesn’t mean there are no dominant teams. Class 1A Madison Prep (17-1) and 3A University High (14-2) certainly qualify. Both have proven their elite status. Scotlandville also has that pedigree.
How all the other teams would stack up offered the biggest question before the season.
“I thought it would be a bit of a down year for Baton Rouge in general,” Pixley said. “Everyone knew about U-High and Madison Prep and who they had, but going into the summer it didn’t look so good.
“As the summer progressed, you started to see local guys getting better and better through summer league and the AAU. This certainly isn’t the best year Baton Rouge has had, but it’s not a bad one. You’ve got a lot of teams are getting better as the season goes on.”
Denham Springs was 14-0 in its summer league and offers one example. Dunham (10-8, 1-0) provides another. The Tigers have steadily improved and host Northeast (8-8, 0-0) in District 6-2A on Friday.
Pixley rates Episcopal (14-2) as the league favorite. The Tigers have gotten a boost from football standout Chase Day, who is playing basketball for the first time in two years. Trey Scott’s return from injury also was pivotal.
“Once we got everybody in place, we started playing better,” Pixley said. “Next Friday we play Episcopal, but that won’t matter if we don’t take care of business. Northeast is dangerous and so are other teams. Even for Episcopal ... if they have an off night, they could lose like the rest of us.”
Ricard acknowledged U-High is the favorite in 7-3A but hopes the Pelicans (13-3, 1-0) are considered in the elite mix.
“I hope people see us that way, but you know there are other teams in the district capable of doing things,” Ricard said. “Brusly lost to U-High on Tuesday, but they’re capable. West Feliciana has Jazz Ferguson and some other guys who can play at a high level.
“Parkview graduated a lot, and they have a new coach (Brandon White). But they’ve got guys with experience and high basketball IQs. Those things matter.”
St. Michael (18-3) had an intense District 6-4A race with Plaquemine and Tara last season. Hart has one of the state’s top seniors in Jacob Evans. However, the SMHS coach said there’s one fact to know about 6-4A now. If the playoffs started Friday, all five teams would make it. District 6-4A teams are 68-28.
“I’d like to think this is the year one or more of us could make a long playoff run,” Hart said.
East Feliciana (9-5, 3-0) hosts Redemptorist (15-5, 3-0) for a key District 6-2A girls game Friday. Don’t call coach Donald Alsandor’s EFHS team an overnight success story.
“I’ve got seniors who have been with us since they were freshmen,” Alsandor, a longtime Jackson High coach said. “They’ve come around, and we’ve got some tall sophomores coming off the bench who help. The key is turnovers. If we can avoid them, we have a chance to win.”
Makayla Barton leads the Tigers with a 12.0 scoring average. Kourtlin Bradford and Tatayana Brown each average 10 per game.