For the second straight year, the Class 4A state championship trophy is guaranteed to be coming back to the Greater New Orleans area.
Will it be going back to Algiers for a second straight year?
Or will it be going over to the north shore?
That will be decided to night when defending state champion and No. 6 seed Landry-Walker (25-9) faces top-seed Salmen (26-5) on Saturday at Burton Coliseum.
“We’ve played them a few times in the past, so there won’t be any secrets between us,” Landry-Walker coach Brian Gibson said. “They are a very well-coached team, and they shoot the ball well.”
Landry-Walker defeated East Jefferson in last year’s title all-New Orleans area title game in the school’s first year since the merger of Landry and O. Perry Walker.
Now they are looking to become the first 4A team to repeat since Cohen went back to back in 1996 and 1997.
Salmen, meanwhile, is looking to win its second state title and first since beating Bossier in 2009.
To do so, Salmen coach Jay Carlin knows one thing will be key for his team: slowing down Landry-Walker’s sharp-shooting guard Lamar Peters.
“They have a number of guys that make them go, but Lamar Peters is the one that really makes them go,” Carlin said. “They have some other guys and they are a solid team, but it starts with him. He can shoot it from deep and get to the rim. We have to be able to somewhat contain him a little bit. We aren’t taking the attitude of giving him his and stopping everybody else. We have to try to prevent Lamar from going off on us.”
Carlin got a chance to see Peters firsthand last season when Landry-Walker eliminated Salmen in the quarterfinals.
“We know they are going to come at us with their pressure,” Carlin said.
Blake Paul, who transferred to Landry-Walker from East Jefferson, gives the Charging Buccaneers a strong inside presence along with sophomore Keytaon Thompson. Paul will play at Tulane next season.
Carlin would like to see his team be able to handle those two on the boards, especially after watching McDonogh 35 grab 16 offensive rebounds Thursday night and take 21 more shots than his team.
“We have to do a better job on the boards,” Carlin said. “We have to handle pressure and rebound the basketball.”
The Spartans are led by Corey Vinson and Chris Vickers. The duo combined for 32 points in a semifinal victory over McDonogh 35. Alex Taylor scored 13 points and give the Spartans a third scorer.
“Those three guys are the catalysts,” Carlin said.
But the Spartans may be without John Norvell and Cameron Vickers. Norvell injured his leg in the first round of the playoffs, and Vickers injured his in Thursday’s semifinals.
“They will both be game-time decision,” Carlin said Friday.
Either way, Gibson knows his team will have to play well defensively.
“We take a lot of pride in how we defend,” Gibson said. “I think it will come down to who can impose their will on the other.
“They are good, but we like our chances. It’s been great to be able to come back here after last year. At the end of the day, we are excited to play a game and hopefully our young people will be ready.”
Carlin is hoping his team is ready as well.
“They do a lot of things well, and that’s why they are playing for the state championship,” Carlin said. “It will take a valiant effort. But hey, we are here and we have played well to get here. If we play well, there is nobody on our schedule we can’t beat. It’s two quality teams going up against each other.”