LAKE CHARLES — Why settle for just one title-game rematch in the semifinals when you can have two? Fourth-seeded White Castle and No. 2 University High face teams they met a year ago in title games.
The stakes are different and so are the teams, but those facts add a little intrigue for two of Tuesday’s six games at the LHSAA boys basketball tournament.
“In a lot of ways, I think we’re in the same position,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said. “Both teams lost several players, so it won’t be exactly like last year. But they still like to shoot a lot of 3-pointers, so it will be interesting.”
The Cubs (18-11) play No. 3 De La Salle (20-10) in a Division II semifinal that concludes Day 2 of the annual six-day tournament. The Cavaliers beat UHS 81-69 to win the Division II title last season.
At 11:30 a.m., defending champion White Castle (22-8) takes on the underdog role. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs face No. 1 Tensas (34-1) in a Class 1A semifinal that tips off action at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
“We’re a very different team than last year,” WCHS coach Troy Green said. “We rely a lot on our ability to defend and on being able to shoot from the outside. Tensas has pretty much everybody back, so we’re the underdog for obvious reasons. With that said, we’re excited about going back to the tournament.”
It is the sixth straight tourney berth for U-High. The Cubs are led by 6-foot-2 Eric Reed, who averages 17.7 points per game. Kyle Ross added 14.2 points per game and Bryton Constantin, an all-state football player at linebacker, adds 12.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
De La Salle is coached by former Catholic High assistant coach Paul Kelly, who also is the De La Salle principal. Noble Scott, Jalen Ned and Kelly’s son John help lead the Cavaliers.
“We depend a lot on four sophomores, including Milan Mejia, who starts for us,” Spencer said. “And we have Michael Douglas III, another football player, who has played a big role. We didn’t scale down our schedule at all for these guys. They’ve responded.”
White Castle beat Tensas 60-47 in the 1A title game a year ago. This is the 22 LHSAA tourney appearance for a guard-oriented WCHS team led Darian Pierce Jr. and Tre’ Melancon. Newellton-based Tensas is making its third straight tourney appearance.
Melancon averages averages 15 points per game, while Pierce (13.0) and 6-6 Tamarcus Fair (11.0) are other leaders for White Castle. The matchup between Fair and Tensas’ 6-5 Albert South (11.9 points per game) will be pivotal. Point guard Lamont Bass (16.9) is Tensas' top scorer.