Building relationships with players is a significant part of coaching. Jehovah-Jireh basketball coach Dirk Ricks says scheduling is about relationships, too.
Ricks gets to illustrate that point at 7 p.m. Friday when the Class C Warriors (22-4) host Class 4A Carencro (14-7) in a matchup of defending LHSAA champions at the Geo Prep gym.
“It is about the relationships with coaches I have made along the way,” Ricks said. “We’re a Class C school, and I’m always able to find games. We played Carencro in the Port Barre tournament a few years ago, and that is how this started.”
The Carencro vs. Jehovah-Jireh game highlights Friday’s boys basketball schedule. The Dunham School (18-3) hosts University High (11-8), while Madison Prep hosts Class 4A Morgan City in advance of its Saturday showdown with Scotlandville.
Carencro coach Chris Kovatch remembers that tourney matchup well and explains why playing the Warriors makes sense for his team. The Bears beat Jehovah-Jireh in their gym last year. Friday’s game completes the two-year home-and-home contract.
“When we played Jehovah-Jireh in the Port Barre tournament, they were starting to become what they are now — one of the best programs in the state in any class,” Kovatch said. “We didn’t know anything about them, but what a game. We figured a game like this in the middle of the season would help both teams.”
The two teams have different lineups than a year ago. Carencro graduated one four starters and one key reserve off its 4A title team. The Bears are led by 6-foot-7 sophomore Joseph Charles, a post player with guard skills, who missed much of last season as a 6-4 freshman because of a broken leg.
Charles averages 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Jehovah-Jireh relies on a mix of returning starters. Point guard Jaron Davis has taken on the leadership and scoring roles. He averages 21 points per game. Ricks’ son, 6-0 freshman John-Paul Ricks, averages 18 points per game.
“We have guys playing different roles,” Ricks said. “Jaron has taken over the leadership role as a senior. With the exception of the game we lost to Scotlandville, we have been in every game we’ve played. It is still about getting better every day and with every game.”
Putting it together
Dunham cemented its status as one of Louisiana's top teams in all classes with a runner-up finish in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic tournament. In University, the Tigers faced a team looking to cement its lineup.
Football players Bryton Constantin and Jardin Gilbert have been in and out of the lineup for multiple reasons. Constantin, a Clemson football signee, has played in two all-star football games and been in and out of the lineup. He leads the Cubs in scoring. Gilbert (11.0) and Milan Mejia (10.0) are next.
"We're playing a 5A schedule and still trying to put it together," UHS coach Joe Spencer said. "Dunham is really good. They have four guys who can handle the ball and score. This will be a test."