There’s few certainties in Louisiana high school athletics. But for the past several years, one thing that could be counted on is Scotlandville and Madison Prep being favorites in the Bob Pettit/Coca-Cola/East Baton Rouge Parish tournament.
Once again, the Hornets and Chargers don’t disappoint.
Two of the state’s top programs, No. 1 seed Scotlandville (12-1) and reigning tournament champion and No. 2 seed Madison Prep (11-3) make the short trip to the F.G. Clark Center at Southern University as the favorites to take home the green-and-gold banner this weekend.
“Once you’ve been successful, the expectations never cease,” Madison Prep coach Jeffery Jones said. “Regardless of who’s here, the expectations are still the same. You’re still expected to win and perform.”
Madison Prep took home top honors at the tournament last season. McKinley upset Scotlandville 52-51 in the semifinals by on a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left in the game, snapping a streak of three consecutive tournament title for Scotlandville. The Chargers beat the Panthers 56-42 in the final.
But Jones said, while expectations are high after the Chargers got a taste of winning last season and the target is on their backs heading into this weekend, it isn’t the same team that won the 2014 championship.
The Chargers lost three starters from last season, including former four-star recruit and current LSU guard Brandon Sampson, and the three losses they’ve garnered so far prove they’re far from invulnerable.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, Jones knows there’s always a few upsets at the EBR tourney each year.
“We’ve shown some growth from the beginning, but there’s some really good teams playing here,” Jones said. “Belaire is playing well. McKinley is playing well. Scotlandville is one of the best teams in the state.
“This tournament, typically, there’s going to be one or two upsets, and we’re just going to try not to be one of them.”
Whereas Madison Prep is rebuilding from last season, Scotlandville came back stronger than ever after losing only one starter from its 5A state championship team.
After their loss to McKinley last season, the Hornets turned their disappointment into an astonishing undefeated run that came to an end Monday in a 53-51 loss at Riverside Academy.
Before this week, Scotlandville had won 31 consecutive games.
“A loss always motivates you — I know it does for us,” said Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample. “We’ll still be the same Scotlandville. We just have some things to improve on, and hopefully we can improve on those things and play within the system.”
The road to the tournament final will be made slightly easier this year with both teams earning a bye as the top-seeded teams.
Scotlandville is set to play the winner of No. 8 Central and No. 9 Woodlawn in the second round on Sunday, while Madison Prep will play the winner of No. 7 Baker and No. 10 Tara.
“Everyone loves to play for the green banner,” Sample said. “When I was in high school, I played in the East Baton Rouge Parish tournament, and I think every year it brings a different flavor.
“We’ll see what this year brings. There’s always a sleeper team and some upsets.”