Photos: Madison Prep beats Zachary, UHigh wins v. Scotlandville _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Madison Prep's Sherry Porter shoots a shot over Zachary's Aleah Haynes (12) and Tamia Veal (24) in the EBR Girls Basketball Tournament in December.

Call it a sentimental journey.

Consider it a way to judge the current talent level of girls basketball.

Take the chance to go support a team.

Regardless of which option appeals to you, make it a point to attend the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 basketball tournament that begins Tuesday in Hammond.

Why? Well, why not?

When I think about the transition the LHSAA is going through to widen the select/nonselect playoff split to include basketball, baseball and softball in 2016-17, the 1970s Seals and Crofts song “We May Never Pass this Way Again” comes to mind.

If you love either the girls tourney or the Boys Top 28 set for March 8-12 in Lake Charles in its current semifinals/finals format at one site, this could be your last chance to see it.

Next year the plan calls for 12 boys championships and 12 girls championships. The tournament is likely to be a finals only affair, with semifinals set for regional sites.

It’s hard to compare players and eras. While we haven’t reached the level of parity I’d like to see in some areas, the girls basketball talent level locally appears to be on the rise.

We’ve written about a number of top players throughout the year. Going to a game gives you the chance to put a face and a skill set with the name.

If you like teamwork, their will be plenty of that. There are Cinderella stories with teams like Parkview Baptist and Madison Prep making the tourney for the first time. University High is a two-time defending Class 3A state champion.

And with six area teams in the tourney, Baton Rouge may just hold the key to how well the five-day tournament fares attendance wise.

The knock against local fans is that they’ll come to a playoff game at home, but not on the road. I’d like to see Baton Rouge buck that trend in a big way.

After all, Hammond is a reasonable drive down Interstate 12. Consider it a home away from home for a few hours.

Go for the nostalgia. Go for the teams and players. Just go to the games.

Short turnaround?

Family Christian basketball coach David Castillo and the LHSAA could find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The 14th-seeded Flames travel to No. 3 Summerfield at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the second round of the Class C boys playoffs.

Normally, that game would be played Tuesday. However, Summerfield coach Randy Carlisle also coaches the top-seeded Summerfield girls team that faces Plainview on Tuesday in the Class C semifinals in Hammond.

Castillo has inquired about the possibility of moving the quarterfinal game to Saturday. The school is set to file a formal request, stating that FCA would be at a disadvantage with just one short day to prepare for a quarterfinal after travel to north Louisiana-based Summerfield.

“There’s no guarantee we’ll win, but as a coach you have to always look toward the next game and fight for your kids,” Castillo said. “We’ll play Wednesday and will get back home at probably around 2 a.m. It’s hard to get anything done in one day like that.”

Now here’s the issue for the LHSAA — there could be a Saturday game anyway. If Summerfield advances on Tuesday at the Girls Top 28, it would play in the Class C girls final Friday night. That would push Summerfield’s boys quarterfinal to Saturday automatically.

Guess we’ll have to see how this one plays out.