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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Where are 2006-07 All-City MVPs?

Last season, Airline's Emily Carter was the Most Valuable Player on The Times' All-City basketball team, and Fair Park's Eric Tramiel was the MVP on the boys' team.

Carter signed with TCU and is redshirting this season.

Tramiel is playing at Paris Junior College. He is averaging 8.9 points and leads the team in field-goal percentage (49 of 76, 64.5 percent) in the latest stats available. His percentage would rank second in the NJCAA's Division XIV, but players need 85 attempts or more to make the region rankings.

Paris is 17-3 overall and 9-2 in the conference, tied for the lead with San Jacinto.

Big basketball games on tap Friday

For the last week and a half or so, there haven't been many big "showdown" games involving local high school basketball teams. That changes Friday.

Start at Southwood, where the No. 2-ranked and defending state champion Lady Cowboys (30-3) host No. 1-ranked West Monroe (26-1). This could be a preview of the state championship game. Southwood lost to West Monroe 60-58 in the first district meeting. West Monroe would all but wrap up the District 1-5A title with a victory.

At Parkway, the Lady Panthers (26-4, 8-1), leaders of District 1-4A, take on the Minden Lady Tiders (20-11, 7-2). If Minden wins, Bossier can gain a virtual share of the district lead with a victory over Woodlawn.

At Mansfield, the Lady Wolverines (18-8, 7-0), leaders of District 1-3A, face second-place Benton (24-12, 6-1).

There is yet another battle of first- and second-place girls teams at Loyola. The Lady Flyers (23-11, 5-0 District 1-2A) host Homer (24-5, 4-1). Both are ranked in the state's top 10. Loyola won the first district meeting by a point.

The top boys game pits Fair Park (24-4, 7-0), ranked No. 1 and leading District 1-3A, against No. 4 ranked and second-place Booker T. Washington (25-6, 6-1). Fair Park won the first meeting at BTW. Friday's game is at Fair Park.

Huntington, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, puts its 12-game winning streak on the line against a 20-5 Springhill team at Springhill.

Huntington deserves better support

The Huntington Raiders are ranked No. 2 in the state and are 30-4 on the season. They're only losses are to Fair Park three times (they have also beaten Fair Park three times) and a team in a Texas tournament early in the season.

Sadly, on Tuesday night the Raiders' home gym was less than half full for a District 1-5A game against Airline when they notched their 30th victory.

Huntington has a fun team to watch. If you like to see dunks, the Raiders' have plenty of players who can do it. If you like to see 3-pointers, then just wait for Kyle Jones to come off the bench.

I remember back when Southwood and Byrd were making runs at state titles in the 1990s. Their gyms were just about full for every game. Bossier has also had solid support. Huntington deserves no less.

Jefferson, Jefferson, Jefferson

Jeremy Jefferson's decision to sign with Northwestern State is a good one.

A lot of people around here didn't understand why Jefferson wasn't getting looks from bigger schools. He is a 2,000-yard rusher in each of his last two seasons.

But the reason he didn't get bigger offers was because of his size.

At 5-foot-7, you have to be off the charts in some area - whether it's speed, quickness, vision, what have you.

Jefferson didn't measure up to the BCS schools' standards in those areas.

That doesn't mean Jefferson can't have a productive college career. Nor does it mean his career will end in college. If you're good enough, then pro scouts will find you.

What Jefferson needs is a productive college career. He should get that chance at NSU.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Calvary's other football team

Local soccer powerhouses like Captain Shreve, Caddo Magnet, Parkway and Loyola have dominated the sport for years. But the most heartwarming story goes to Calvary.

Amazingly, Calvary has a district championship in its first year of existence and is heading to the Division III playoffs.

David Salter came over to Calvary from Airline and turned a program featuring seventh and eighth graders into an undefeated district champ.

OK, they aren't going to beat the big schools anytime soon, but to do what Salter has done is quite amazing.

Check Thursday's The Times edition for more about Salter's job and the Byrd Lady Jackets rise to the top of their district.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why Ladies' Top 28?

The LHSAA has renamed its girls state basketball tournament the Ladies' Top 28.

I like two-thirds of the name, the Top 28 part. I'm not so keen on the Ladies' part. Why not just call it the Girls' Top 28. The boys Top 28 should also be officially called the Boys' Top 28.

To me, the term ladies brings to mind figure skating or a staid event like Wimbledon. The players in the girls state tournament may be "young ladies'' off the court, but they are definitely tough competitors on it -- just as tough as the boys.

The tournament had to change the name from Sweet 16 -- which it has used for more than 40 years -- because the Kentucky High School Athletic Association had trademarked the name in 1988. It lets the NCAA use Sweet 16 for its basketball tournament but denied the LHSAA.

I understand why the girls tournament was called the Sweet 16, but I never really liked it. The tournament started with 16 teams and the name stuck as it expanded, which caused some confusion.

LHSAA commissioner Tommy Henry told the Hammond newspaper he wouldn't care if the tournament was still referred to as the Sweet 16 in the media. I wouldn't recommend it. Refer to it as the Girls' Top 28 instead.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Where have all the scorers gone?

I don't want to sound like a crusty old man.

But, where have the big-time scorers gone in high school basketball?

I'm not talking Greg Procell. That's a once-in-a-lifetime scorer.

But where are the Paul Marshalls, the Billy Thomases, those kinds of scorers?

Yes, Loyola's Charles Winborne had a big game earlier this year. But I'm talking about the guys who can score 30 a night.

Maybe this is more of a trend from college working its way down to the high school level. You know, suffocating defenses that make scoring difficult.

Whatever the reason, I miss the guy you could count on for 30 to 35 a night.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Playoff push for soccer clubs

Postseason hopes for two soccer teams may be decided Thursday night.

Byrd and Airline meet at Tinsley with second place in District 1-Division I up for grabs. Byrd has a 1/2-game lead over the Vikings, but the Yellow Jackets are coming off a disheartening loss to Caddo Magnet on Tuesday.

Airline steamrolled Natchitoches Central , 8-0, on Monday.

The Yellow Jackets were ready to play against Magnet, but the Mustangs' superior skill appeared by game's end even though they were short a man for most of the game.

Byrd was the last boys team to win the state title in 1996.

The Division I state finals will be at Independence Stadium at the end of February.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Some tough choices for player of the year

Selecting the player of the year on the boys and girls all-city basketball teams will be extremely difficult this year.

Last year it was pretty clear cut with Fair Park's Eric Tramiel and Airline's Emily Carter. This year no clear-cut choices have emerged.

Fair Park has two boys candidates, Morris Claiborne and Markcus Jackson. Like Fair Park, Huntington is a balanced team although Kendrick Washington may stand out a little above the rest.

Evangel's Kenny Franklin is having another good year, and Loyola's Charles Winborne is a big scorer.

On the girls side, Southwood is balanced as usual. So is Parkway and Bossier.
Southwood's Brittiany Houston and Jasmine Grant have both had stellar seasons. Parkway's Brittney Dukes and Chloe Woodington also have to be considered. And Bossier's Shaquilla Smith has come on of late.

Loyola's Ashley Jackson has also rebounded nicely after missing all but one game of last season with a knee injury. And Evangel's Vashni Sharp has led her team to the top of the District 1-1A standings.

And there are probably others out there.

BTW's new gym impressive

Last week I saw Booker T. Washington's new gym and came away very impressed.

It's about time that BTW's boys and girls basketball players have the same (you could even say better now) facilities as their counterparts at such schools like Southwood, Airline, Fair Park and Captain Shreve.

It wouldn't be a stretch to call BTW's gym a fieldhouse. That's how nice it is. It's a far cry from the Lions' old gym, which has stands on only one side and very little space between the ends of the court and the wall.

What looked like an average crowd at last week's BTW-Fair Park game likely would've packed the old gym.

I got a guided tour from former BTW head football coach James Mosley. The dressing rooms are spacious, and there's an upstairs area on one side, similar to the area at Centenary's Gold Dome, that the school hasn't decided how to use yet.

A similar facility is being built at Northwood. It is also much needed and overdue.

Convention time

The LHSAA convention begins tomorrow in Baton Rouge.

Let's face it, when figuring out a way to fund a third assistant commissioner is considered a big deal, then it's not a real sexy agenda.

Of course, Tuerlings Catholic principal Mike Boyer apparently isn't going to let his idea to ban spring football practice die quietly.

After tabling the matter last year, Boyer apparently will be back this year. He also wants to add a preseason scrimmage to make up for the lost spring game.

I didn't see that one flying last year. I certainly don't see it flying this year.

In fact, that is probably one reason so little has been mentioned about it this year. Because it doesn't have a real good chance of passing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Always something

You've got to love covering high school sports because it's always something.

I called up to Homer today to do a little short note on Kendra Moore scoring 50 against Springhill.

Let's face it, 50-point games are pretty rare.

So I'm talking to coach Elaine Gilbert. And I ask her when she realized Moore had this high-scoring game going?

She said she didn't know until her scorekeeper told her.


You'd think a 50-point game you would already know.

But wait, there's more.

She didn't know because Moore only had 18 at the half and 30 after three. While those are high-scoring games they are not red flags for 50-point games.

So it is understandable how a 50-point game can go under the radar.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wild race in 1-4A

The best race in area high school boys basketball may very well be in District 1-4A.

Minden moved into a first-place tie with Bossier after routing the Bearkats on Friday night. Both teams are 4-1.

The teams behind the first-place leaders - Northwood, Captain Shreve, Parkway and Haughton - are also capable.

Northwood is 3-3 in district and Captain Shreve, Parkway and Haughton are all 2-3 in district.

That's six teams separated by two games.

It should be quite a race.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Early look to the polls

The state high school basketball polls will be released next week.

Here is what you've got to figure from our area. Huntington will likely be ranked in the Class 5A boys poll. Defending state champion Fair Park will appear in the Class 3A boys poll and an undefeated Zwolle team should be atop the boys Class B poll.

Where it could get interesting is in the Class 5A girls. West Monroe has one loss. Southwood has three losses, with one of those to West Monroe.

West Monroe may get the early nod, but which team would you fear meeting in the playoffs?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Here they go again

OK, Evangel lovers and Evangel haters. You have some new fodder.

Two BTW starters - quarterback Scrib Pipkins and wide receiver Eric Thomas - have transferred to Evangel. Thomas will likely be eligible since he lives in the Eagles' district. Pipkins may be eligible if his move is deemed for non-athletic purposes.

Some will say Evangel is recruiting again. Others will agree with Eagles coach Ronnie Alexander and ask what are they supposed to do when a player wants to go to their school?

I don't know the answer to this one. I know BTW is hurt by the losses of those two players. But I also know it's hard to turn a kid away when he comes to your school.

And I also know this - those that hate Evangel will say their recruiting. Those who love Evangel will say their giving those kids an education and a chance to play college ball.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Huntington makes its case

I saw Huntington boys basketball coach Mack Jones before the start of the Bossier Invitational.

In the course of normal chit-chat, I told Jones it looked like he had a pretty good team this year.

Ever the humble coach, Jones replied, "We're just trying to get better.''

Consider that goal accomplished last week as the Raiders defeated the Fair Park Indians in the Bossier tournament finals.

While Huntington had beaten Fair Park during the regular season, it was the Raiders' first win over the Indians with a tournament title at stake.

With district play heating up this week, Huntington will likely be a contender in District 1-5A.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Still some football left

If you can't get enough football, there's one last local game - Friday's All-American Bowl Classic.

I don't know what's going on with this as far as an event. Last year there was a press conference, this year nothing.

Still, there will be some pretty good players at Independence Stadium. Kickoff is 4 p.m. LSU fans can see Drake Nevis, a commitment from John Ehret. Tech fans can see Dusty Rust, a commitment from Captain Shreve.

There are several other committed prospects but the game is really about those uncommitted and getting them scholarships. Forty-nine players over the last two years have gotten scholarships after coming to Shreveport without a commitment.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Big girls district games on Friday

Two big local girls high school basketball district games on Friday could go a long way towards determining playoff positions.

In District 1-5A, Southwood visits Airline, and in District 1-4A, Parkway hosts Bossier.

Southwood and Airline are both 2-0 in 1-5A.

Southwood faces three tough games on the road. The Lady Cowboys play at West Monroe, which has lost only once, on Tuesday and at Ruston on Jan. 12.

While every team would love to win district, the object is simply getting to the playoffs. District 1-5A put five teams in the playoffs last year. Southwood went in as the No. 3 seed and Airline the No. 5 and two ended up playing for the state championship.

Bossier's recent victory in the Doc Edwards Invitational makes Friday's game against Parkway interesting. Bossier has already lost to Minden, and while a loss Friday wouldn't really jeopardize the Lady Kats' playoff chances, it would probably all but eliminate them from district championship contention.

Huntington-Fair Park becoming quite a basketball rivalry

The Huntington Raiders and the Fair Park Indians have had quite a rivalry on the basketball this season.

The teams have played five times with Fair Park winning three of them. Huntington won the latest matchup 54-49 Tuesday night and most of the games have been fairly close.

The teams have one more chance to meet and that would come in the finals of the Bossier Invitational on Saturday night at Bossier High School.

After that, they will go their separate ways with mostly district games on the schedule -- Huntington in District 1-5A and Fair Park in 1-3A.

So if they play Saturday my advice is get there early or you may not get a seat. In fact, if the tournament's past history is any indication, you may not even get in.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Soccer rankings out

God bless the folks at LAHSoccer.com for compiling the state soccer rankings each week.

It's hard enough compiling halfway credible football rankings, imagine the difficulty in soccer where you may not be able to see all of the teams.

Anyway, Caddo Magnet is No. 5 in this week's Division I boys rankings. Parkway is No. 10 in the Division II rankings.

It will be interesting to see how accurate these rankings are come playoff time.