Marsh Madness, as the LHSAA boys playoffs is fondly called, starts in the Jonesboro-Hodge High School gymnasium. Only Jonesboro-Hodge won’t be playing there. Instead it will be Saline and Quitman providing a juicy Division V matchup for local fans. The Tigers travel Merryville High, located between DeRidder and Lake Charles, site of the state tournament, for a Division IV first round matchup. Both games will be played on Friday, February 24th with the Saline/Quitman contest beginning at 6:00pm and the JHHS/Merryville game starting at 6:30pm
This will mark the first year of Division playoff competition setting up matchups that would never have taken place under the old Classification format. Each of the four teams are all from separate classification with Saline being in C, Quitman in B, Merryville in A and Jonesboro-Hodge in Class AA.
While the contest between JHHS and Merryville will be a first between the two programs, Saline and Quitman have played three times already this season. The Wolverines won twice in the first three weeks of the season by scores of 48-28 and 47-43 and Saline grabbed a 60-49 victory on January 19th
First round playoff capsules:
#16 Quitman vs #17 Saline: (Division V)
Both teams enter the contest being played at the de facto home court of the Wolverines after playing some of their best ball down the stretch and coming off a winner take all matchup in their final game of the regular season. Quitman brings a 17-12 overall record into the matchup after winning four of their last six games that includes giving district champ Doyline one of only three losses suffered this year. Saline posted a similar 19-14 overall record and also was hot down the stretch winning 8 of their final ten regular season games and then beating Atlanta in a one game playoff for the district 2C title. Whoever comes out on top faces a daunting task in the second round as a trip to #1 seed Zwolle (30-2) awaits.
#14 Merryville vs #19 JHHS: (Division IV)
Jonesboro-Hodge hopes the playoffs will help erase the memory of what has been a disappointing 9-16 season and fifth place finish in the six team district 3-2A. Over the long tenure of head coach Allen Tew, JHHS usually is peaking heading into the postseason but in an odd twist of fate the Tigers have stumbled mightily down the stretch this year, losing their final six games where they averaged scoring only 46.3 points per game. Even though they only finished third in District 5A, the season has been somewhat of a renaissance year for Merryville, whose 19-14 showing is the best record posted in 15 years. The Black Panthers closed the year winning five of their final seven games, losing only to district champion Hamilton Christian and Class 5A Sam Houston.