Temperatures dropped Thursday morning and for the first time we might have true fall football weather Friday night.
Three days earlier, there was a different drop. It was the sound of basketballs hitting courts across the Baton Rouge area as schools in Class 5A to 1A began preseason practice.
Why talk basketball, when it’s football season? Because once again, the possibilities are epic. The 2019-20 season also will be the high school farewell tour for many talented players.
The notion that Madison Prep and Scotlandville will be good again is not news. Consistency sets both programs apart.
MPA has won five straight LHSAA titles in three classifications as the school's enrollment grew. The past two in Class 3A were most impressive. In 2018, the injury-challenged Chargers dispatched traditional power Peabody. Much the same thing happened a year ago with a group of youngsters who just found ways to win.
Scotlandville has been in the Class 5A or Division I title game every year since 2010. No other team has done that in Louisiana’s top classification. The Hornets have LHSAA six titles during that span, including three straight in Division I.
Walker won its first Class 5A title in 2018 and was the runner-up. WHS’ Jalen Cook (LSU commitment) and Scotlandville’s Reece Beekman (Virginia commitment) are guards and special talents worth seeing. Louisiana-Monroe commitment Elijah Tate helps lead a Madison Prep team that includes 6-foot-9 sophomore Percy Daniels.
Several boys teams will be retooling. But Port Allen, the Class 2A runner-up, returns the majority of its lineup plus Catholic High transfer Collin Holloway, who moved to his home school zone for his senior season. One player fans won’t see is Emareyon McDonald, junior transfer from Red River who has been ruled ineligible at Scotlandville by the LHSAA, said SHS coach Carlos Sample.
Girls basketball will be just as intriguing. McKinley’s Erica Lafayette (Rutgers), Diamond Hunter of Lee (Sam Houston) and Denham Springs’ post/forward Kate Thompson (Wisconsin) are high-profile early commitments.
Lee won its first LHSAA girls basketball title last spring in Division II and seeks its fourth straight trip to the semifinals or finals. Four in a row is impressive, but the longest running success stories belong to University High, Albany and Madison Prep.
Coach Bonita Johnson’s U-High teams have advanced to the semifinals or better in Class 3A or Division II since 2012. Livingston Parish-based Albany has five 3A appearances during that span. The Madison Prep girls have been in a title game in either 2A or 3A four straight years.
McKinley has a new coach in former LSU and WNBA standout Temeka Johnson and was in the Division I title game twice before last season’s LHSAA all-sports playoff ban.
“Grind, respect, repeat,” is what Lee girls coach Valencia Wilson told her players when practice began Monday. Sounds like a plan.
Pelican State extravaganza
Denham Springs High will host a high school and college teams for the Troy Giordano Pelican State Extravaganza for separate girls basketball scrimmages starting at 10 a.m. Saturday in four gyms. The event is named in honor of the late East St. John girls coach.
High school teams include host DSHS, East St. John, Ursuline, Amite, Walker, Ponchatoula, Albany, John Curtis, McKinley, Zachary, Lafayette Christian, Loranger and Warren Easton.
BRCC, Bossier Parish Community College, Holmes Community College, Hinds Community College, LSU Eunice, LSU Alexandria and Southern University Shreveport are among the colleges set to play.