Three Baton Rouge teams ranked No. 1 in first boys poll

“I’m surprised to be No. 1, to tell you the truth. We’ve got some nice pieces back from last  year, but we’re still building and working to  get better.” MARK CASCIO, Christian Life coach

Baton Rouge boys basketball powers Scotlandville and Christian Life Academy have picked up right where they left off.

Both schools won state titles to cap their 2011-12 seasons. Now, both the Class 5A Hornets (19-2) and Class 1A Crusaders (14-4) are ranked No. 1 in their respective classes in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s first polls of the year.

Also ranked No. 1 was a third Baton Rouge team — Class B Madison Prep (28-4), which topped the Class B-C poll. Sportswriters from across the state voted on the polls that favored defending state champions.

Peabody of Alexandria (17-4) in 4A and Bossier (19-3) in 3A are other defending champions rated No. 1 in the weekly polls.

“It’s never a bad thing to be ranked No. 1,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “But these guys understand there are still a lot of things we need to do and work on to be able to compete for a state title at the end of the year.

“This is the first year they’ve played these roles for us. They’re still learning and growing in their roles. The good thing is they’re not worried about power rankings or polls or anything out on the Internet. They’re focused on getting better.”

The Hornets grabbed all 11 first-place votes in the 5A poll. Monroe-based Ouachita (20-4) and New Orleans’ Brother Martin (18-2) complete the 5A top three. East Ascension (19-2) is ranked fifth.

Madison Prep also garnered all 11 first-place votes in the B-C poll. The Chargers were a Class B semifinalist last season.

Christian Life coach Mark Cascio said his team is taking much the same approach as Scotlandville. The Crusaders have three starters returning from last season.

CLA garnered six first-place votes. Central Catholic of Morgan City (10-3) was voted second and got the other five first-place votes. CCMC took a one-point win over Christian Life in a game played in Morgan City recently.

“I’m surprised to be No. 1, to tell you the truth,” Cascio said. “We’ve got some nice pieces back from last year, but we’re still building and working to get better.I think you’ve got some very good teams in 1A like Country Day, Plain Dealing and North Central. And then you’ve got some other top teams who don’t have great records now. But that will change now that everybody is getting into district.”

St. Thomas More of Lafayette (19-4) and East Jefferson of Metairie (20-2) are ranked behind Peabody in 4A.

The Monroe-area trio of Richwood (15-6), Carroll (15-5) and Farmerville (17-4) follows Bossier in 3A. St. James (15-3) is fifth. Lusher of New Orleans (15-4) is sixth, just ahead of Brusly (15-5). Amite (15-6) is eighth, followed by No. 9 Glen Oaks (13-10).

Class 2A offers some interesting contrasts. Newman of New Orleans (16-2) took the top ranking with five first-place votes. Despite a 72-44 loss to Riverside Academy on Friday, University High (19-2) was ranked No. 2 and Riverside (13-3) third. Defending 2A champion John Curtis (10-3) was ranked fourth. Four 1A teams received first-place votes.