2022 a roller coaster ride for local roundballers

Timewise, the LHSAA prep basketball regular season runs roughly from the first of November until the end of January, with a spattering of games slated in February before the start of the playoffs. Other than one game scheduled for December 30th, you can put a bow on the 2022 portion of the LHSAA basketball season for the four schools in the Jackson Parish Journal coverage area. It’s a wrap!

In the not-so-distant past, the Christmas holiday break from school meant contests being played virtually every day, sometimes even more than one in a day if a tournament was going on. Nowadays, it means a two-week break from competition.
The coaches and players will be busy though. The staff will be pouring over film daily, so they can decide what to continue doing and what to discard. The players will be putting in lots of practice time attempting to iron the wrinkles out and working on their shortcomings. All of this is to prepare for the 2023 portion of the schedule, which is mainly district play and the stretch run to “Marsh Madness,” as the LHSAA state tournament is affectionately called.

Let’s take a look at each of the four boys and girls teams in our area and recap their season to date.

Boys:

Jonesboro-Hodge (4-5) While the other three schools in the area started their season around the first of November, JHHS didn’t play their first game until November 29th allowing time for football season to end. The Tigers opened by winning their first three games, climbing to the top of Division IV “non-select school rankings. Then, by the design of head coach Allen Tew to toughen his squad up for the rigors of the District 3-2A battles ahead, the schedule got considerably tougher with their next six contests being against traditionally strong programs from Class 3A and above. The result has been five losses in their last six games, but the Tiger’s power rating has not suffered much as they enter the next phase of the season ranked #9 in the state.

Quitman (11-6) Head coach Mike Black’s bunch has been a pleasant surprise so far this season and was one group that probably hated to see the break in play come along. After treading water at 5-5 over the first 10 games, the Wolverines caught fire during December breaking off a pair of three-game win streaks and winning six of their seven contests during the month. Two victories over a Class A team and a pair of Class 2A squads were included. Making the showing even more impressive is that this has been done while playing only one game in their own gymnasium which is undergoing renovation forcing the Wolverines to play their “home” games at Jonesboro-Hodge. If there is a drawback to the season so far is that despite the winning record, Quitman is sitting at only #18 in Division V, as nine games against Class C opponents have hurt their power rankings.

Saline (7-10) If you think there was a difference in the fortunes of November and December at Quitman, it is nothing compared to what has occurred at Saline. The Bobcats lost 9 of their first 10 November games heading into the Bienville Parish Tournament. They also lost to Arcadia on December 2nd, but head coach Klint Robinson noticed a difference as his squad played with an intensity not seen before this season. The spark has turned into a roaring inferno. Saline has now won six of their last seven, with five of the victories coming against teams from higher classifications. The victories combined with “playing up” have vaulted the Bobcats to #16 in the rankings, being the only team in the top 18 with a losing record.

Weston (7-11) The Wolves are another team that started slow but showed improvement over the last three weeks before the break. Injuries and illness played a big factor in Weston losing six of their first seven but since back at full strength, head coach Jacob Otwell’s group has put together a winning record buoyed by a stretch of three wins in a row, including a victory over a Class 5A opponent. A strong finish is going to be needed though if the Wolves have any designs on seeing post-season action. With only three games on the schedule being against schools from a higher classification and 11 contests being played against Class C opponents, Weston is currently ranked #35 in Division V and on the outside looking in at what will be a 28-team field.

Girls:

Jonesboro-Hodge (2-8) Head coach Kris Cash is hoping for a repeat of last year which saw JHHS make an astounding reversal of starting 2-10 to finish at 13-14 and winning district. For that to happen though he must find a replacement for all the points that graduated, something that up to this point is still a work in progress. Signs are that the Lady Tigers are moving in the right direction as after starting 0-6, the Lady Tigers have split their last four games and in three of the four registered their 1st, 2nd, and 4th highest scoring total of the year. The trend must continue if JHHS is going to make the playoffs as they are currently #31 in the rankings.

Quitman (13-4) The Lady Wolverines look to be strong contenders for district title considerations once again under head coach Kyle Leach. As usual, QHS will fill it up from “downtown” but what has been different this season is that for the first time in several years, the Lady Wolverines have a strong post presence as well. The result has been an impressive showing. So far, Quitman has lost only to a pair of south Louisiana perineal powers in an early season tournament while being forced to play shorthanded and to a pair of Class 5A squads. Their victims include three Class 2A opponents and three from Class A helping QHS to a #13 ranking in Division V and the third highest among north Louisiana schools.

Saline (4-11) The Lady Bobcats season is quickly becoming “twice as nice.” That is because of the suddenly inspired play of the Gray twins that has caused their recent opponents to see blue. The season started horribly at 1-12 but head coach Chris Toms’s girls will enter the next phase on a three-game winning streak. Confidence will also be sky-high, especially for Alaya Gray, who turned in the first “triple-double” of the season among players from area schools. A strong January is going to be needed as Saline is sitting squarely on the “bubble” at #27 in the rankings.

Weston (17-4) Without a question the “feel good” story of the year for the 2022 portion of the schedule. Never in recent memory has the Lady Wolves started a season in such impressive fashion. The nine-game winning streak to open the year set a new modern-day mark for the best start to a season as did scoring over 70 points in the first three games. Head coach Stacey Tucker and assistant Jennifer Tolar, who has had to take over the reins recently due to Tucker being out with COVID, have one of the deepest squads in the area with several players being able to light it up at any time. Only four times all year has Weston failed to score at least 50 points. Only three games against schools from a higher class has hurt Weston’s power rating though. Currently, the Lady Wolves are #22 despite having the fourth-highest total of wins among Division V schools.


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