Let me begin by stating that Hammond is a terrific city and Southeastern Louisiana is an excellent university. For that matter, University Center is a fine facility and the hosts were generous to a fault.
The LHSAA girls prep basketball championships seemed to last a month. In fact, it was just under a week but you get the picture.
Frankly, many of the semifinal games should not have occurred. There were clearly teams there that were not semifinal worthy and would never have been under the previous united playoff system.
Of course, there were champions crowned that never would have been champions under the previous format as well.
It did not take long for many of us to “long for the old days.” Then again, that is no surprise.
Twelve championships are way too many. Fans of the participating schools were thrilled and should be. It is great to see excited participants, schools and fan bases. The memories will last a lifetime.
Then, there are the obvious negatives emanating from what we witnessed.
One of the participants in Hammond had a student section which regularly chanted “bull-_____” when they did not like a call made by referees. Needless to say, it did not reflect well on the school at all. In fact, it was embarrassing. How no one addressed it is befuddling.
The stands were not as crowded as they typically are. Many of the games lacked the level of excitement typically attached to them. In some cases, it was because the games, themselves, were not compelling while in other cases, it was because of the segregated nature of the championships, thanks to the split.
Attempting to attend all of the games has become a moot point for Hammond, and for the boys in Lake Charles this week. Who can make six days (and nights) worth of games in succession?
In Louisiana girls basketball, 367 teams participated in the regular season process with 12 champions being crowned, way too many. Of course, 287 of the 367 teams participated in the playoffs (78.2%), a ridiculous number and notion. Addressing the pathetic nature of a seven-team playoff bracket is useless.
The start times for games (and dates) in many instances, were absurd. That will most certainly be the case for the boys this week as well.
There were 20 girls playoff games that were decided by 50 or more points and a ton of others that were won by 40 or more points. Same some of these scores to get the ugly, realistic picture of what principals have wrought.
100-5, 85-9, 85-18, 98-33, 91-27, 90-26, 79-16, 87-25, 86-26, 71-12, 80-23, 78-21, 73-17, 84-30, 79-26, 83.31, 96-46, 66-11, 79-29, 79-29.
One semifinal produced a 37-point differential, another was won by 31 points and a third was decided by a whopping 27 points.
Then, there was the one championship game that was decided by 47 points.
If I had a dollar for every coach (or athletic director) that has told me they do not favor the split and would prefer the old way of competing as one, I may not be a rich man but I would have enjoyed a profitable week. While some of it may be coach-speak or geared to please an audience of one is plausible but many certainly meant what they have stated.
Welcome to the new normal in Louisiana High School athletics, courtesy of a majority of principals who sought to enforce their principle upon the association and its members. The mission has been accomplished.