There are several schools of thought on how to achieve it but every coach in the state will tell you that they want to be playing their best ball of the season heading into district play and then the playoffs. The goal is to have their squad, as it is said in modern jargon, “trending” in the right direction.
Also, in regard to power rankings and playoff seedings their are certain spots that you just don’t want to see your team sitting at like #15 & #16 or #31 & #32 . Those places are down right ugly. The reason is that means you are in line to play one of the top two teams in the state, usually on their home floor, in the first two rounds. Being #7 & #8 isn’t all that good either as you are most likely destined for a quarterfinal matchup against the same. Of course the worst of all rankings is #33 or below as that means you are sitting home watching the others in your class play.
Let’s take a look at some of the schools in the Jackson Parish Journal coverage area that are showing trends, both good and bad, as well those who are sitting in those very precarious ranking positions. We will call it the Good, Bad and the Ugly. LHSAA rankings are as of 2/9/21
THE GOOD: Do you think playing at home makes a difference? The gym at Ouachita Parish High School (OPHS) is affectionately called the “Madhouse at Milhaven,” and is traditionally one of the toughest environments in the state to play at. OPHS has won all five of their district home games including a 15 point whipping of #4 West Monroe when they were the top ranked team in the state. . The four teams in District 3-2A are all in the top ten (Many -#2, Red Ricer #6, Winnfield – #7, and Lakeview – #9) and combine for an average district ranking of #6, the best in the state. Calvary Baptist became the first north LA squad to reach the 20 win plateau and has won six straight. In the “I wish I had been there” category, Arcadia who is ranked #4 in Class A beat twenty game winner, Simsboro by a 63-62 score. Sound like one “whale” of a game. Delhi is 12-9 overall but is a perfect 11-0 in district 2-1A. Doyline is 13-0 this year and riding a 42 game winning streak over the last two. They are also the first team to clinch a district championship. In 4C play Calvin was 4-4 but now sits at 11-5 after winning all six district games and losing only to a Class 3A team.
THE BAD:Ruston went 12-1 to start the year. Since they are 3-5, including losing 3 out of their last 4 district 2-5A games. Pineville was also trending downward having lost nine in a row but Tuesday night beat West Ouachita, who has now lost 5 of their last six 2-5A games. District 1-2A is one of the weakest in the state. Combined the four teams (JHHS – #12, North Caddo – #26, D’Arbonne Woods – #42 and Lakeside – #49) have an average ranking of #32.2. Not good. Many is ranked at #2 in Class 2A and was one of the few undefeated teams in the state at 12-0 but has lost to a couple of district 3-2A in the last seven days. Is this a sign they are just “paper” Tigers?” Winnfield opened the season at 9-1 but since have dropped 4 of 6 and are dead last in district play. Quitman was riding an 11 game winning streak but have since dropped their last two district games before righting the ship Tuesday against Weston, who has lost five in a row and is in the cellar of district 2B. Magnolia School of Excellence (MSOE) is 0-7 and Haynesville is 0-9. Haynesville is #30 and dead last in the Class A rankings. MSOE is #13. Can’t figure that one out.
THE UGLY: St. Frederick is also at #15 in but that is in Division IV where that isn’t as bad as would seem as “non-select school brackets always have lot of first round byes . Choudrant is at #15 in Class B and both Ringgold (Class B), Georgetown (Class C) and St. Frederick is at #16 but for them that is not such a killer spot as there are never 32 teams in any of the division brackets, meaning many byes are given which changes the normal pairings up. Alexandria Sr. High (ASH) and Winnfield is sitting at #7 meaning for the Tigers a possible third date with district foe Many, in the quarterfinals, who has already beaten them twice this year, Oak Grove is at #8. Those who are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether are #36 West Ouachita, #42 D’Arbonne Woods, #49 Lakeside, #51 Pineville.
THE GOOD: After five 2-5A wins in a row and a 20-5 overall and 6-1 district record Ruston stood 20-5 overall and in prime position to win their first district title since 2009-10. West Monroe was 2-2 in 2-5A play but five straight wins, including a crucial Tuesday night victory over Ruston, now has the Lady Rebels with a half game lead. Lakeview has won 10 straight after going 7-3 in their first ten. Homer has won 9 straight, all but one being district 1-1A victories after starting 2-6. Ouachita Christian (OCS), the top ranked team in Division IV, has won 12 straight and has the most wins (24) in north Louisiana, boys or girls. Cedar Creek is 18-1 other than the two losses to OCS. Castor has won their last five to tie Doyline for the top spot in district 1B. Quitman, #5 in Class B, has won 14 straight and at 22-2 has one of, if not, the best all time winning percentage (91.67%) in school history. Calvin lost 11 of their first 12 games but is 4-0 since.
THE BAD: Four straight losses has knocked Pineville from the district title race. West Ouachita was 6-3 in 2020 but has gone 2-7 in 2021. In Class 2A, North Caddo won their first game of the year but have dropped six straight since. Winnfield has lost all four of their district 3-2A games after starting the season at 8-3. Delhi won their first three 2-1A games, since they have lost four straight. The four teams in District 4B (Castor – #17, Doyline – #22, Saline – #27 and Dodson – #30) has an average of #24.25 in the Class B rankings. That is the worst total district rating in the state in girls play. Choudrant won their first six of the year but is 8-11 since.
THE UGLY: District 2B foes Weston and Simsboro sit at #15 and #16. Of all the classes you don’t want to play a top two team it is Class B Pineville has gone from the top ten to #16 in just two weeks. Plain Dealing is one better at #15 in Class A as is Central-Jonesville in Class C and Red River in Class 2A. Jonesboro-Hodge is at #7. With the victory on Tuesday and two more games this week against #44 Lakeside and #46 North Caddo that they should win hopefully they will move up at least one spot. Could work in reverse though due to horrible rankings of both opponents. Winnfield is at #30 and hanging on to a playoff spot by a thread. Alexandria Sr. High is at #41 in 5A and in serious danger of missing the playoffs. Same for Lakeside – #44 & North Caddo – #47 in 2A . St. Frederick will always be able to say they were undefeated in 2021. Problem is that they are only 2-0 and has cancelled the rest of the season.
Friday games for area boys and girls teams:
Jonesboro-Hodge at North Caddo Choudrant at Weston Quitman at Simsboro West Ouachita at Ruston ASH at West Ouachita Many at Winnfield Lincoln Prep at Arcadia Ringgold at Lincoln Prep Delta Charter at Cedar Creek Dodson at Doyline Calvin at Atlanta