Are you ready for some roundball? Whom to watch

By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

The 2018 high school football season is officially over for local Catholic schools. 

It ended last Friday when Archbishop Rummel, De La Salle and St. Charles Catholic were eliminated in the Select divisions’ semifinal round. 

So, we move indoors just in time for the first of many arctic blasts to come. It’s now basketball season.

The results of early games, and there aren’t many, indicate that the team to beat in Division I will be (guess who?) Scotlandville.

How the dynastic Hornets became a “Select” team when the LHSAA decided to have separate playoffs for “Select” and “Non-select” schools is rather ridiculous. But a Select team they are. And here’s what they have accomplished on the hardwood: Division I titles in 2017 and 2018; Class 5A titles in 2012, 2013 and 2015. 

During the 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2016 seasons, Scotlandville was the Class 5A state runner-up.

Brother Martin, in 2010, and St. Augustine, in 2011, won state championships by beating the Hornets in those years.

The Scotlandville juggernaut has not slowed a step in the first two weeks of the 2018-19 season. It has beaten four Class 5A teams by significant margins.

The local outlook

The six Catholic schools in District 9-5A have shown marked improvements.

If any can match the talent of defending champion St. Augustine, it may be Jesuit.

The Purple Knights entered the week with three wins by the impressive margins of 31 points. Their only loss so far is a two-pointer to Karr.

Jesuit looks toward the CYO Classic with optimism derived from its 4-0 start. The Blue Jays defeated 2018 Division I runner-up St. Paul’s, 62-34, on Nov. 20 and has outscored their early opposition by a 64-35 average margin.

Three returning starters give Holy Cross fans a reason to be optimistic. The Tigers have won three of four games, losing only to Sophie Wright (2-0).

Under new head coach Scott Thompson (who coached Brother Martin to the 2010 state title), Archbishop Rummel is off to a slow 0-4 start. But the Raiders’ best players were also members of the football team that was recently eliminated and don’t quite have their basketball legs under them yet.

Also look for improvement from Archbishop Shaw in Wesley Laurendine’s fourth season as the Eagles’ head coach. They opened the season with three wins before losing to St. Paul’s, 67-64, in their last game entering the Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO Classic earlier this week.

Like St. Augustine, Brother Martin, will not be part of the CYO Classic. Instead, the Crusaders are ticketed for a trip to Memphis in late December to compete in the Christian Brothers Tournament. 

Having played just two games, with wins over South Terrebonne and South Plaquemines, there is little to tell about the Crusaders until they face West Jefferson, Carver and Chalmette in the days to come.

Before St. Paul’s lost to Scotlandville, 63-50, in the 2018 Division I finals, the other Catholic League teams were eliminated in the D-I quarterfinal round. Look for a stronger effort in the spring of 2019.

An eye on De La Salle

As it did in the football playoffs for the past two seasons, De La Salle’s basketball team lost to University Lab, 64-59, in the Division II semis. That came a year after the Cavaliers defeated Lab for the state championship.

By the time the season ends, the Cavaliers could be among the top contenders again because of their returning veteran players. 

Since losing their first two games, coach Paul Kelly’s team has won twice, and how they perform in the CYO Classic and against district rivals, Lusher and Donaldsonville, will tell the story.

Other Class 5A teams around the state to watch include Bonnabel, Destrehan, Hahnville, Ponchatoula, Live Oak, Landry-Walker, Slidell and Ouachita.

The best of the 4A group seem to be Lakeshore, Woodlawn-Shreveport, Minden, Huntington and Livonia. John F. Kennedy on the Lake Area campus is another team to keep an eye on.

The new Ursuline

Andrea Williams, who coached Ursuline Academy to two state championships, has moved on and left the well-established program in the hands of  former Nicholls State assistant Kris Goff. 

And what better way for a new coach to be initiated than by having inside scoring and rebounding threats Kennedi Jackson (6-3) and Kiersten Nelson (6-1), and the quick Tyrielle Williams as the point guard.

There may be a little learning curve for the Lions and Goff, but by the time district play begins, the Lions should be roaring.

It’s a given that John Curtis is favored to win District 9-5A. But look for a more competitive series among the league’s three Catholic schools – Mount Carmel, Dominican and Archbishop Chapelle. The most improved has been Dominican, winners of four games against Class 5A opponents.  

Mount Carmel (4-1) has felt the loss of several veteran players and will not be as dominant over their two peers. 

Chapelle started the season with an impressive 35-23 win over Academy of Our Lady.

Who can forget the 2018 Division III championship game when St. Katharine Drexel Prep defeated its archrival St. Mary’s Academy for the title, 43-42?

St. Mary’s has been the busier of the two, having played seven games (winning three), while Drexel Prep has won once in three early starts.

Both should fare well in their respective districts, but first things first: The two will meet again on Dec. 5, and Drexel will be the home team wherever and whatever time they stage the game. 

Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org
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