By T. Scott Boatright
Lincoln Preparatory School, Simsboro and Choudrant each turned in strong boys basketball seasons, and all three have earned first-round playoff byes as announced when Louisiana High School Athletics Association brackets were released Monday afternoon.
Simsboro, the defending Class B state champion, is the top seed in that classification and has a first-round bye. The Tigers’ first foray into the 2022 postseason will come on March 1 when the Tigers play host to the winner of Friday’s first-round contest between 16th-seed Midland and 17th-seed Pitkin.
Earning the No. 1 seed wasn’t a surprise for Simsboro coach Josh Brown.
“That’s what we work for,” Brown said. “That’s why we schedule tough games like we do – to earn the No. 1 seed, and I’m proud of our guys for doing that. But it doesn’t mean anything unless we go win these next four games.”
Brown said he and his staff have already been looking at both Midland and Pitkin.
“We started getting film last week because we could kind of see the possibilities for these second and third round games, so we started collecting film and watching,” Brown said. “ But now that we know it’s one of those two for sure we’ll start digging in a little deeper and put together some scouts so we’ll be ready for whoever wins the game between those two Friday night.
“They’re very similar. Both are well-coached and play very hard. But we’re going to have a major size advantage with our guards no matter which one we face.”
He also said his Tigers are ready to once again have a big target on their backs.
“We’ve dealt with that all year and really the past couple of years,” Brown said. “We tend to get everybody’s best game because of the success that we’ve had. Our guys are used to handling that. I have all the confidence in the world in our players, but the bottom line is that we have to go out and play good basketball and win four more games. Just because we’re the No. 1 seed and have Simsboro written across our jersey, that doesn’t mean anything if we don’t prepare well and play well.”
Simsboro closed out the regular season with a 66-41 win over Summerfield, with Chilaydrien Newton leading the way with 15 points, Jordan Craword adding 14 and Nick Maryland and Lee Abney chipping in with 10 points each.
Choudrant is the No. 7 seed in Class B and will play host to the winner of a first-round contest between No. 10 seed Florien and No. 23 seed Glenmora on March 1.
Last year the Aggies were the 14th seed, falling in a second-round contest. Choudrant coach Ryan Smith said earning the first-round bye should help his team’s confidence factor this playoff season. He added that having three senior veterans doesn’t hurt that confidence either.
“This group of seniors have been together three years now with two of those with all starting,” Smith said. “The way they’ve stepped up to the table and given us our first bye is something everyone around here is excited about.”
In Class 1A, Lincoln Prep is the No. 4 seed and has a first-round bye.
The Panthers will begin their postseason play on March 1 as they face the winner of a first-round contest between 13th-seeded Homer and 20th-seeded Sicily Island.
Lincoln Prep defeated Franklin Parish 49-37 in the Panthers’ final game of the regular season with Braylan Mayfield leading the way with 18 points and 18 rebounds while D’Mitry Payne added 17 points.
Emmanuel Butler added 14 rebounds, five steals, three assists and a blocked shot in that regular-season finale for Lincoln Prep.