The Carencro boys basketball team had at least one obvious advantage over No. 20 Livonia in their Class 4A quarterfinal Friday, which the Bears won by 18, and Carencro coach Christopher Kovatch made sure to remind his team of it.
Fifth-seeded Carencro (24-10) had “been there, done that.”
But Kovatch wasn’t talking about last year, when the Bears won their first state championship in school history in their first appearance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Basketball tournament. He was referring to what Carencro, which will head to the Lake Charles on Tuesday with all new starters, has experienced this year.
“Just based on where we’ve gone, the schedule we’ve played and who we’ve played, it’s those games,” Kovatch said. “It’s the district atmospheres that we’ve been in. When you go to (St. Thomas More), when you go to Westgate, when you go to Northside, when you go to Rayne. I mean, (Rayne) might have been the craziest of all. We’ve been there, done that, throughout this year —not to mention last year.
“So I think there’s a legitimate sense of confidence that comes from that. There’s just going to be a different dude in a different color uniform in front of us, basically.”
So Carencro shouldn’t be awed by the environment or the opponent when it hits the Burton Coliseum floor at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, which is a good thing because the opponent is scary good.
Awaiting the Bears is top-seeded Bossier, a 31-3 team that has “12 guys that can start for just about any team in the state,” Kovatch said.
Kovatch said this Bearkats team is better than the talented Woodlawn of Shreveport team Carencro beat in the state championship game last year. Bossier, which was upset in the second round last year as the No. 2 seed, is as physical as any team Carencro has played this year.
“They really kind of pushed Woodlawn around, especially the first time that they played, this past year,” Kovatch said. “They’re just tough. They’re a veteran group. … They just go out and try to impose their will on people.”
The Bearkats don’t necessarily have the height across the board like Huntington, which the Bears beat in the second round. But they’re certainly not short.
“Huntington had more of the bigs,” Kovatch said. “Bossier really only presents one true big kid. They’ve got one 6-foot-7 guy, Dante Bell. They’ve got a couple of other big kids — they have a 6-5 and a 6-4 — but different types of games than the kids from Huntington necessarily.”
But more than any other player, Bossier plays through point guard Jacoby Decker, a 5-foot-7 scorer with NBA range.
“That guy is going to walk across half court and he’s going to take about 2-3 steps and let it fly several times in the game,” Kovatch said. “We’ve talked about the fact that he’s going to do that no matter what. If he scores 50 points, they’re probably going to beat us. I don’t know if we’ll be able to stop him from doing that, essentially. But we’re kind of hoping that it becomes a different environment for high school kids shooting in an arena. So hope for a little good luck.”
Aside from doing their best to limit Decker, Kovatch hopes that the size of the Burton Coliseum floor will give the Bears more room to operate when Huntington throws different types of pressure at Carencro.
But too much preparation isn’t going to help the Bears against a team this talented, Kovatch said.
“The greatest luxury I think this game has for us is it’s a different type of preparation than most of our other games have been,” Kovatch said. “Watching film and really preparing a scouting report really doesn’t help for this game. Ultimately it comes does to just playing basketball. … It’s one of those things where we have to be the best version of us. If we do that, we’ve got a legitimate shot to knock them off.”