Before either Breaux Bridge or Rayne can entertain thoughts of a potential All-Acadiana Class 4A state semifinal next week, both have substantial quarterfinal hurdles standing in their way.
For No. 11 Breaux Bridge (28-3) that translates into a trip to face No. 3 Karr (28-6) at 6 p.m. Saturday, while No. 7 Rayne (25-6) takes on two-time defending state champion Salmen (25-4) at 3 p.m.
“If we can sustain the mental part; not getting into one-on-one basketball and ignoring the fans because it will be a hostile environment, I think we’ll be fine,” Breaux Bridge coach Scotty Borel said.
“We don’t feel any pressure because we’re the 11th seed, and they’re third. The pressure’s on them.”
Like Breaux Bridge, Rayne has navigated through unchartered waters, reaching the brink of its first state semifinal appearance with Salmen and 6-foot-5 Baylor signee Kalani Brown impeding their path.
“To be the best you’ve got to beat the best,” Rayne coach Chester Randall said. “It’s a great challenge to beat Salmen with Kalani Brown. It’s a challenge the girls are up to and can’t wait to have a shot.”
No. 11 New Iberia (18-13) is also in pursuit of the school’s first state semifinal, hosting No. 3 West Monroe (29-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s about trying to get to that next step,” New Iberia coach Robert Pinckney said. “In 14 years of coaching here, this is the third time we’ve been here but haven’t made it past. It’s an opportunity to change the culture.”
No. 2 Vermilion Catholic (23-4) looks for a return to the Top 28 after winning the Class 1A state title in 2013, hosting No. 7 St. Mary’s of Natchitoches (23-6) in a Class 1A quarterfinal at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Breaux Bridge and Karr have arguably the best of the Class 4A quarterfinal matchups with a combined 56-6 record. The Tigers are riding a 19-game win streak and the Cougars having won their past 10 games.
Despite traveling for the second straight playoff game, Borel said his team has one distinct thing going for them against Karr — 6-foot Louisiana Tech signee Jasmine LeBlanc who averages 24 points a game.
Combined that with the play of point guard Caitlin Davis, who averages 11 points and seven assists, and the Tigers have been a force this season.
“We beat a quality program at St. Michael and going into environment helped us a little mentally,” Borel said of Monday’s 47-44 regional victory. “This was something new to these kids because we hadn’t been that far.”
Rayne takes a stretch of 10 straight wins on the road for the first time in the postseason, matching its pressure-driven defense against Salmen which has averaged 81.5 points in two playoff games.
Guard Charlesha Dugas leads the Wolves with an 18.4 average. Six-foot-one junior center Whitley Larry averages 8.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.2 blocks.
“The harder we play on defense is the more mistakes we can create,” Randall said. “I feel no one in the state can play harder than what our girls play.”
New Iberia gets its second chance to go head-to-head with District 2-5A after a playoff-opening 56-44 win over No. 22 Ruston.
Not only did West Monroe go through the league with an unblemished but the Rebels have won 14 straight.
New Iberia, which is 8-3 at home, will rely on the 20-point scoring average of Louisiana Tech signee Kierra Anthony and 10 points from senior forward Urionne Jolivette.
“They’re a real good team and we’ve got them coming here, so we have to play well defensively and keep their point guard out of the paint,” Pinckney said. “We’ve played some good teams this year, but we think we match up well with them.”