It’s not exactly same time next year. But it is déjà vu with the semifinals in view for the Baton Rouge area’s two top-seeded girls basketball teams.
Class 3A No. 1 Albany (25-8) hosts No. 9 Loyola-Shreveport (24-9) in quarterfinal action at 6:30 p.m. Monday in a rematch of last year’s title game Loyola won, 55-41.
Meanwhile, 2A No. 1 University High (29-6) hosts No. 8 Doyle (27-6) for a 7 p.m. quarterfinal that is also a rematch of sorts. The Cubs beat the Livingston Parish-based Tigers 74-47 in last year’s regional round.
The two teams help lead a contingent of Baton Rouge-area squads shooting for berths in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Top 28 regional semifinals set to begin Thursday.
“Loyola graduated several players, but they have one starter back and two reserves from last year along with a 6-foot freshman, so size-wise the challenge is very similar,” Albany coach Justin Adams said. “You can say it gives us the chance to get revenge. Really, the focus has to be on this game.”
University High coach Bonita Johnson agrees.
“It really is about this game,” Johnson said. “You can look at Doyle and see they’re a better team. They’re more experienced, and they’re playing well. Focus … that’s the key.”
Albany is led by 5-foot-8 senior Danielle Keith, who averages 22.9 points and 11.4 rebounds. Shelby Stewart adds 11.3 points for the Hornets.
U-High is led by the trio of 5-8 DiMond Jackson (14.0 points per game), 5-7 Alanie Fisher (14.0) and 5-10 Terriel Ross (13.0). Doyle’s Taylin Underwood averages better than 20 points per game.
No place like home
The BR area’s two second-seeded teams, 4A St. Michael the Archangel and 3A Baker, face new challenges. Both SMHS coach Tami Reynolds-McClure and Baker coach Michael Stephens are glad their teams will be at home.
St. Michael (31-4) hosts No. 7 DeRidder (23-8) at 6 p.m., while Baker (23-5) also hosts another No. 7 in E.D. White Catholic (25-5) at 6:30 p.m.
“This is the one you want to have at home,” Reynolds-McClure said. “If you’re a higher seed, you’ll take playing on the road in the second round because the teams are so evenly matched in the quarterfinals.”
St. Michael, the 4A champion in 2008 and 2009, got a boost from the return of senior guard Taylor Morrison from a ankle injury last week. Morrison leads SMHS with a 13.0 scoring average. Glynn O’Neill (9.2) and Journee Beard (9.0) are other top scorers for the Warriors.
Baker looks to extend its seven-game home playoff streak that dates to 2010. That’s when the Buffaloes finished as the 3A runner-up. Eugenea James (5-10) averages 18 points a game for BHS, while Jacquis Dodson adds 12.0.
It is the first time Baker has played Thibodaux-based E.D. White, a team in the running for the No. 2 seed before forfeiting two early-season games.
“They (E.D. White) could very well be where we are,” Stephens said. “They’re a smart, disciplined team that we’ve never played before.
“I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room of rocking chairs. But I’m glad we’re playing at home.”
Denham Springs (25-5), seeded fifth, travels to play No. 4 West Monroe (26-6) at 6:30 p.m. in 5A action. The Yellow Jackets are looking to make it back to the semifinals for the first time since 2011.
Several players who power DSHS now were part of that team, including Caletria Curtis, who scored 15 in a regional win over Pineville.
Southern Lab (18-8), seeded 11th in 1A, has won nine straight. SLHS, featuring several new starters, hosts No. 3 North Central (26-4) at 6 p.m. at McKinley. Maiya Forbes scored 20 points in Southern Lab’s regional win over Merryville.
“When the year started we were so young we smelled like milk,” SLHS coach Henry Combs said. “We’ve grown and gotten better all year.”