WHAT I SAW
As much as time permits this March, I’ll get out and see some of the best the state has to offer in terms of college prospects during the 2015 playoffs.
There was plenty of talent taking to the hardwood in the Alexandria area for the first round.
On Friday night I had the opportunity to see the only LSU commit participating in the LHSAA playoffs – 2017 Peabody guard Cedric Russell – as well as, 20 miles north, one of the state’s top big men in 2016 power forward Mike Layssard from Northwood-Lena.
Peabody, the No. 2 seed in Class 4A, hosted Vandebilt Catholic, and Russell sent the Warhorses racing to a 22-4 first-quarter lead by pouring in 14 points in the frame, including three triples. The 6-foot-2 sophomore played sparingly in the second half of a 75-38 win, finishing with 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Northwood-Lena, seeded fifth in Class 1A, welcomed in Vermillion Catholic. “Big Mike,” standing 6-foot-8 and continuing to slim down, now at 254 pounds, posted 21 points – including a made three early and a vicious drop-step-and-dunk late – before fouling out of a 77-62 win.
Check out my brief photo gallery of both players below and be on the lookout for stories and recruiting updates on both players this week.
Had I continued north on I-49, I could have seen the following in person.
Chad Lott, a three-star prospect in 2015 still on LSU’s radar, and Byrd took care of Barbe 73-47 in a Class 5A first-round game in Shreveport. Lott scored 18 points before the game got out of hand, none more exciting than these two.
Check out the video in my tweet below of Lott driving baseline and soaring for the incredible slam in traffic. The ensuing reaction, of course, is equally as priceless.
WHAT ELSE HAPPENED
Here’s a list of some of the other highlights from Round One.
CLASS 5A: The upset of the first round in the highest classification was 29th-seeded Carencro prevailing 56-53 at No. 4 St. Augustine, which features 2017 standout guard Caleb Daniels. Carencro will travel next to Higgins, the 20-seed, which put it on No. 13 Bonnabel 49-26 in the first round. Higgins features 2015 stud wing Melvin Frazier.
CLASS 5A: Another interesting matchup on tap in Round Two is Byrd, the fifth seed, traveling to No. 23 Denham Springs, which won a high-scoring affair, 75-72, at 10-seed East St. John on Friday. That ended the season prematurely for 2016 ESJ guard Troy Green. On a side note, I believe I’ll be in Denham Springs Tuesday night to take in the ballgame and check in on Chad Lott.
CLASS 4A: There were only two “upsets” in the opening round of this bracket – Neville edged Lutcher 70-62 in a 16/17 game while Franklin Parish took out Teurlings Catholic in OT, 74-71, to win the 14/19 matchup. Other than that, all chalk. Of note is 10-seed St. Michael (Baton Rouge) advancing courtesy a 72-56 win over Bolton despite Jacob Evans, a Cincinnati signee, not at full strength with a swollen ankle. St. Michael plays next at No. 7 Leesville.
CLASS 3A: Only one road team came away victorious from the 3A first round, No. 25 Donaldsonville, which nipped eighth-seeded Marksville 57-56. Their reward? Donaldsonville gets to host No. 9 Port Allen on Tuesday night. Port Allen was an 89-81 winner over Parkview Baptist in a first-round barn-burner.
CLASS 2A: How many points can a team score in a regulation high school basketball game? Top-seed Riverside Academy explored that topic Friday night, lighting up the scoreboard for 123 in a 72-point win over No. 32 Springfield. Up next for RA: a second-round home date versus Isidore Newman. Also of note in the upset department: No. 26 Northeast went into Ferriday and won 61-57. Northeast will now host No. 10 Many on Tuesday.
CLASS 1A: No huge surprises in the opening round, particularly not at the top, where No. 1 Madison Prep took care of St. Mary’s 107-45. Stats on noteworthy MPA players in that one: 2015 St. John’s commitment Brandon Sampson had 13 points, 2015 Rhode Island signee Christion Thompson had 15 points, 2017 standout guard Josh Anderson had 12 points and 2018 forward Josh Leblanc finished with six points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks. Next up for Madison Prep: a trip to No. 17 Tensas.
The second round, with each bracket down to 16 teams, gets underway Tuesday night.
There's plenty of intrigue across the state, including in Class 4A, where Tioga will travel to play at Peabody under the guidance of head coach Lance Brasher, a former Peabody player under longtime head coach Charles Smith, now a member of the 900-win club.
Below are links to updated brackets for all seven classifications in the state.