Riverside rallies to top Karr in Sugar Bowl Prep Classic _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- Karr's Tyree Thompson drives to the basket against Riverside's Kendall Martin in the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic on Jan. 9.

LAKE CHARLES — Edna Karr’s four seniors were in the third grade the last time the Cougars made it to the Boys Top 28 Tournament.

But don’t think for a minute the Cougars are happy just to be one of the last four teams remaining in Class 4A.

“We’re not satisfied with just making it to the Top 28,” senior guard Tyree Thompson said. “We want to accomplish our goal we set at the beginning of the year and win a state championship.”

Karr, a No. 3 seed, takes the first step Thursday at 2:45 p.m. Thursday when it faces No. 2 Washinton-Marion in the semifinals at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.

Karr (24-12) is hoping to claim the school’s first state championship since that last Top 28 appearance in 2007. The Cougars also won it all in 1994 and 1996.

Karr coach Taurus Howard was a senior on that 1994 team that brought the first state championship to Algiers and he was an assistant on the 2007 championship team. Now he tries to win one as a head coach in his third season.

“I haven’t really thought about it as far as getting here as a coach,” Howard said. “I always think about it more from the kids’ perspective. I know what they are going through and what it takes to get there because I went through it as a player. I just want my kids to do well.”

Thompson is one of four seniors, all starters, for the Cougars. He is joined in the lineup by Vincent Phillips, Diamante Woolridge and Devin Edinburgh and junior John Maxmillion.

Key reserves off the bench are Daijean Dixon, Kendell Johnson, Marc Bowie, Jonathan Smith and Skyler Perry.

Washington-Marion (21-8) is looking to knock off its second straight opponent from the New Orleans area.

The Charging Indians erased an 11-point halftime deficit in the quarterfinals to defeat McDonogh 35. It was Washington-Marion’s 15th consecutive win.

L’Marcus Walker, Da’Vantre Vitor and Joshua Porche lead the Charging Indians.

“They are real athletic at every position,” Howard said. “Their guards are real quick, and all three can shoot it. They can run and jump and they play like we play in transition a lot. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

It’s a Top 28 challenge the Cougars have waited for since last year when they were knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals by rival Landry-Walker.

“That left a bad taste in the current seniors’ mouths,” Howard said. “They really came back with a great focus. You could see they were really trying to be a special group. That just carried over all year, and they have played for each other. The kids really bought into what we were saying as far as working hard and being dedicated and unselfish.”

Thompson still remembers the quarterfinal loss as well and hopes this is the year the Cougars can bring the school its first basketball title in nine seasons.

“We did what it takes to get here,” Thompson said. “Now we just have to finish it off.”