Baker girls get surprise trip to Lake Charles

Baker High girls basketball coach Michael Stephens knew his team wouldn’t get another home playoff game.

But Stephens and the second-seeded Buffaloes (26-5), of Class 3A, got anything but what they expected. Instead of heading to Hammond for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s regional semifinals, Baker is Lake Charles bound.

The Buffaloes are set to play six-seeded Abbeville (27-6) at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Lake Charles Civic Center, instead of heading to Hammond, which is geographically closer.

“This is ridiculous; that’s what it is,” Stephens said. “I’ve already told Rhonda (Dreibelbis, assistant executive director of the LHSAA) that it nullifies any advantage we had as a No. 2 seed. We’ll have to drive past Abbeville to get there.

“With that said, I know it’s just a basketball game, and we could go to Alaska or play at home and lose. This will probably cost our school an extra $1,000 to $1,500, and it will make it tough for our fans and parents to get there. What’s the point of having a power-rankings system if you don’t use it.”

Dreibelbis said the LHSAA entered Monday night knowing that only a certain number of girls games could be played at each site. She told Stephens that Class 2A top-seeded University High was closer to Hammond’s Southeastern Louisiana University Center than Baker and got the final girls slot there.

The LHSAA’s schedule released Tuesday calls for six girls teams to be played in Hammond on Thursday and Friday — three each day. Five boys games will be played at SLU on Saturday, Dreibelbis said.

“I think what it comes down to is Baker expected to go to Hammond and when they found out they were going to Lake Charles they were shocked,” Dreibelbis said. “Really, there aren’t any guarantees. We could wind up with a similar scenario depending on how the boys games come out.

“There are plenty of teams who would love to change places with Baker. They’d love to go anywhere to get the chance to play.”

Class 5A Denham Springs High (26-5), a No. 5 seed, is the other Baton Rouge area team headed away from the area. The Yellow Jackets will face top-seeded Southwood (31-1) at 8 p.m. Friday at Bossier City’s CenturyLink Arena. The schedule released by the LHSAA calls for four girls games Friday in Lake Charles and Bossier City. All three sites will feature boys games Saturday.

Meanwhile, the teams headed to Hammond for Thursday and Friday’s semifinal games are strongly based in either Baton Rouge, New Orleans or Hammond.

On Thursday, 2A University (30-6) meets No. 4 John Curtis at 4:30 p.m. to tip off the action. Class 1A No. 1 West St. John (29-1) plays No. 4 Central Catholic at 6:15 p.m. Top-seeded Albany (26-8) then faces No. 5 Rayville (24-5) at 8 p.m. to conclude the first day.

Friday’s action at SLU opens with two Class 4A semifinals. Baton Rouge’s St. Michael the Archangel (32-4), the No. 2 seed, takes on No. 3 Vandebilt Catholic (28-4) at 4:30 p.m. Top-seeded Warren Easton-New Orleans (34-2) plays No. 5 St. Thomas More (27-5) at 6:15 p.m. Hammond’s St. Thomas Aquinas (28-5), the No. 2 seed, plays No. 3 Pickering (28-3) at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Toups not returning

Catholic High has announced that its basketball coach, Mike Toups, will not return for 2013-14 and is exploring other coaching options.

Toups remains a member of the school’s English department faculty, according to a school news release and has the option to stay at the school as a teacher.

Toups came to Catholic in 2009-10 after spending three years as head coach at Covington-based St. Paul’s

Catholic finished 9-19 this season, including a 2-8 mark in District 5-5A.