The madness that is the LHSAA girls prep basketball playoffs gets underway this evening around the state. The sticker shock that will soon come into view of the casual fan may force him or her to shop elsewhere, particularly with many of the travesties that will occur in the first round with several teams that have no business being in anything bearing the moniker “playoffs.”
To be certain, I hold no malice to any school, coach or player who is in the playoffs. They are outstanding persons and schools, most of whom exemplify the very best in college preparatory education. All the schools are doing is playing by the system that their schools, specifically, their principals, have established.
The LHSAA, as Kenny Henderson used to always point out, is an association run by principals, not that being an executive director carries no weight, mind you.
Henderson is and always will be the creator and father of the “split” between select and non-select schools, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer. I will refrain from adding “to death do us part” in the faint hope that change will occur.
In some, if not many instances, the split has resulted in hard feelings, fractured relationships, a lack of trust and canceled contracts.
While the debate has raged for the last four years, the new reality is that we must get used to it as the split is here to stay, barring a miraculous epiphany on the part of many public school principals who have only hardened in their position of remaining apart from private schools, the principal scourge of their athletic anger.
We have already seen how football was affected, with nine championships spread out over two weekends, embarrassing, smallish brackets, even more embarrassing start times and the frustration of the common fan, who wants to see the best against the best.
Instead, we got winless, one-win teams and a host of two-win teams competing in the postseason. Over the last two years, a couple of winless football teams have elected to forfeit, not to compete despite being seeded into the new playoff system. Good for them!
Now, we get much of the same in basketball, beginning with the girls.
Jimmy Watson of The Shreveport Times detailed one such instance indicative of the malaise with which we are now saddled, surrounding the plight of Calvary Baptist, who will travel from Shreveport to Metairie to face 14th-seed Haynes Academy this evening at 6 p.m.
Calvary Baptist has a 1-21 record, including a 21-game losing streak. The Cavaliers are not only in the playoffs but in as the 19th-seed of 22 teams in the bracket.
In the same bracket, you have Country Day (2-16) as the 16th-seed, Pope John Paul II (6-19) as the 17th-seed, Ouachita Christian (5-19) as the 20th-seed, winless Runnels (0-17) as the 21st-seed and Catholic of New Iberia (4-17) as the 22nd-seed.
In Division IV, there are Highland Baptist (6-17) as the 15th-seed, St. Frederick (3-22) as the 16th-seed, False River (7-17) as the 17th-seed, winless Ascension Catholic (0-14) as the 21st-seed, winless Hamilton Christian (0-27) as the 18th-seed and winless St. Martin’s Episcopal (0-15) as the 19th-seed.
To the credit of Ascension Catholic, the Bulldogs chose to forfeit their contest against 12th-seed Catholic of Pointe Coupee.
Of course, the school is being penalized, fined $1,000 for making that rational decision, as detailed by Robin Fambrough in The Advocate.
The last two lines in the quote from Rhonda Blanford-Green speaks volumes.
“They thought that because they were 0-11 they wouldn’t be placed on a bracket. I believe they will try appeal the amount of the fine.”
Make that 0-14 but who’s counting?
In Division V, you have eighth-seed Crescent City Christian (0-9) as the sixth-seed and seventh-seed St. Joseph’s of Plaucheville (2-30). Incredibly, both schools not only get a bye but get two byes, with a free pass to the quarterfinals in what is a ridiculous eight-team bracket.
In Division I, there is ninth-seed Byrd (5-21), which gets a first-round bye in an even more ridiculous seven-team bracket.
In Division II, Lusher Charter (4-13) is the 17th-seed.
In 2A, winless General Trass (0-18) is the 28th-seed ) while East Feliciana (6-16) is No. 31.
In 1A, Ringgold (2-21) is the 27th-seed, Lake Charles College Prep (4-23) is the 28th-seed, Logansport (4-12) is seeded 29th, Delhi Charter (3-21) is No. 30, Northwood-Lena (2-23) is at 31 and Varnado (3-22) is No. 32.
Once again, these are outstanding schools whose coaches and players gave their best effort. They simply did not achieve enough to merit participating in any playoff system, other than the absurd one we are now left with.
Split or no split, the system can still be fixed.
Clearly, there has to be a reduction in the number classes and/or a reduction in the number of playoff teams, particularly on the non-select side. A motion to accomplish that feat failed at the recent LHSAA convention. Hopefully, calmer, brighter minds will prevail down the road. The select playoffs, much as in football, are utterly ridiculous with many teams receiving two byes. The kids are being cheated.
As for the “haves” part of the equation, Class 5A top-seed Barbe (28-3) opens at home against 32nd-seed Hammond (15-16) tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Third-seed Destrehan (30-0), ranked 21st in the nation in the latest MaxPreps national rankings, plays host to Airline (12-14) at 6 p.m.
In 4A, top-seed Loranger (23-2) hosts 32nd-seed Opelousas (9-16) at 6:30 p.m.
In 3A, top-seed South Beauregard (30-3) plays host to 32nd-seeded Indpendence (6-11) at 6 p.m.
In 2A, top-seeded Rapides (27-5) host 32nd-seed Lakeside (9-20) at 6 p.m.
In 1A, Arcadia (25-3) is the top-seed and defending state champion and will host Northwood-Lena (2-23) at 6 p.m.
When all is done, 12 champions will be crowned in Hammond Feb. 27-Mar. 4 and that will be duplicated when the boys convene in Lake Charles March 6-11 at Burton Coliseum. Then, there are the second-place trophies.
As I have stated before, I would love to have the awards contract with the LHSAA. Even though I do not own a trophy business, if I opt to open one today, I may be seeded in the process to get in the door.