Scotlandville, St. Aug to square off again

Advocate staff photo by  April BuffingtonScotlandville's Jordan Adebutu passes the ball as St. Aug's Faraji McDonald defends earlier this season.
Advocate staff photo by April BuffingtonScotlandville's Jordan Adebutu passes the ball as St. Aug's Faraji McDonald defends earlier this season.

Scotlandville High boys basketball coach Carlos Sample doesn’t throw around the “R” words very often. He uses words like repeat and rivalry carefully.

As the Hornets (35-1) prepare to meet St. Augustine (27-8) in one of two Class 5A semifinals that help open the Louisiana High School Athletic Association-State Farm Boys Top 28 tournament on Tuesday, Sample used one of those words to make a major point.

“This is what I call a rivalry,” Sample said. “To me, a rival is not a team you beat every time. This is a team we’ve gone back and forth with. We’ve beat them and they’ve beat us. They’re a rival.

“The loss they gave us in December really stung this group. It stayed with them. They learned some things that day about playing hard for 32 minutes. We dug ourselves a hole and were behind by 10 at the half. We got a three-point lead in the fourth quarter and then St. Aug. came back.”

Top-seeded Scotlandville squares off against No. 4 St. Augustine at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. It will be the third of four games. Thibodaux (23-8), the No. 19 seed, meets No. 2 Natchitoches Central (29-3) at 7:45 p.m.

The four-game session opens with two Class C semifinals —fourth-seeded Sicily Island (23-14) vs. No. 1 Elizabeth (30-4) at 2:30 p.m. and No. 3 Atlanta (29-6) vs. No. 2 New Living Word (30-9) at 4:15 p.m.

The word repeat, or in this case, three-peat, is not something Sample is comfortable referencing. The Hornets are making their fifth straight Top 28 appearance and have won the last two 5A titles. No team has won three 5A titles in a row.

Brother Martin and Woodlawn are the only teams to claim two in a row since the LHSAA added 5A in 1992. St. Aug won the first 5A title in 1992 and added titles in 1995, 1999 and 2011, the year the Purple Knights notched a 67-43 win over Scotlandville in the final.

Both teams are no doubt focused on their recent history. On Nov. 26, Scotlandville beat St. Aug 62-55 at the Landry-Walker tournament. But on Dec. 21, the Purple Knights turned the tables with a 54-53 win over the Hornets in Baton Rouge.

“These guys have been around and they know what’s at stake,” Sample said. “There’s a chance for us to make history. This game comes first and I know it’s not one my guys are about to overlook.”

Senior guard Ezekiel Brown leads Scotlandville with a 16.2 scoring average. Jordan Adebutu (15.4), LaMarcus Lee (12.2) and 6-foot-4 Garrick Green (10.5) also are part of a balanced attack.

St. Aug counters with a lineup that features 6-6 Bryce Washington and 6-5 Charles Brown.

“They’re a much better team now than when we played them in December,” Sample said of the Purple Knights. “They’ve got more depth and coach (Mitchell) Johnson does a real good job rotating the players in and out. In 5A, depth is never a bad thing.

“I’d like to think we’re a better team. The thing I like about this group is they stick with our MO. That starts with solid defense and playing hard for 32 minutes.”

Other games

Thibodaux is making its first tourney appearance since 2005. Though his team is seeded 19th, eighth-year Tiger coach Tony Clark said he knew the possibility of a deep playoff run existed.

“We talked about it early in the year, saying we could possibly get this year,” Clark said. “But it wasn’t something we dwelled on. We took the games one at a time.

“This is has such a great group to coach. There’s no superstar, just a group of guys who work extremely hard.”

Natron Nora leads Thibodaux with a 13.0 scoring average, followed by Christopher Bryant (10.2) and Elray Duncan (10.0).

The Tigers’ tallest player is 6-4. Danny Cohen and Austin Guy each average 14.0 points for Natchitoches Central, which has a 6-9 sophomore post player in Cameron Lard.

Colby Lafauci leads Elizabeth with a 20.0 scoring average going into its Class C semifinal with Sicily Island, which is led by Devion Dunbar (19.2 ppg). Atlanta’s Kentrel Sapp (18 ppg) and New Living Word’s Javier Roper (19 ppg) are the top scorers for the other C semifinalists.