By Malcolm Butler and Scott Boatright
Four of the five Lincoln Parish girls high school programs have earned a spot in the 2023 Louisiana High School Athletic Association playoffs as the brackets were released Monday by the LHSAA.
Ruston High, Cedar Creek, Lincoln Prep and Simsboro will all be heading to the postseason starting later this week.
Ruston High (13-14) is the No. 25 seed in the Non-Select School Division I playoffs and will head to face the No. 8 seed Chalmette (19-4) Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Chalmette ended the season by winning 12 of its last 13 games while winning the District 8-5A title.
“Anything can happen in the playoffs,” said Ruston High coach Meredith Graf. “I believe my team has been well tested throughout the regular season. We will give it our best shot Thursday.”
Cedar Creek (21-6) is the lone parish program that earned a first round bye. Head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg’s teams are co-District 2-1A champions. The Select School Division IV No. 7 seeded Lady Cougars will host the winner of the first-round match-up between No. 10 seed Hanson Memorial (18-8, 7-5 in District 7-1A) and No. 23 seed Glenbrook (6-14, 3-7 in District 1-1A).
“They play Thursday night,” said Vandenlangenberg. “I got film on Hanson Memorial. I am going to watch the film tonight. We played them three years ago in the first round. We are familiar with them. They play in a good district with Highland Baptist and Central Catholic and some others. They will be well-coached.
“We are going to play our game which is up-tempo. We like that. I feel like Hanson Memorial will beat Glenbrook. I would be shocked if they didn’t although it’s a new season. What we did in the regular season can’t be taken away from us. Now it’s a one game type of deal where if you lose, you re done.”
Vandenlanenberg said the second round match-up would be played Monday at the Brickhouse. He also said he is looking to schedule a game this week as a tune-up for the playoff game.
“Teams who have a bye can play another team that also has a bye,” he said. “You don’t want to sit her for 10 days not playing a game. The LHSAA allows it. The girls want to play, but I have to find a team that wants to play.”
Lincoln Prep earned the final seed at No. 24 in the Division IV Select girls playoffs. The Lady Panthers will open postseason play at ninth-seeded Sacred Heart at 6 p.m. Thursday in Ville Platte.
The Lady Panthers enter the game at 3-22 while Sacred Heart is 19-11.
Lady Panthers coach Fred Hearn said that he’ll need his entire team and especially top players Asijah Wright, a junior along with the Spann sisters — sophomore Synniah and seventh-grader Jayleen — to be at the top of their games against the Lady Trojans.
“I actually got some game film on them about an hour ago,” Hearn said Monday evening. “I’ve talked to a couple people about them. They’ve got a pretty good point guard and a couple of other guards who can shoot.
“It looks like they run some zone and a little 1-3-1 defensively. And they played in a tough district. So we’re just going to have to go in ready to play.”
The red hot Lady Tigers of Simsboro High School enter the Division V Nonselect playoffs on an eight-game win streak.
But No. 27 seed Simsboro (15-11) faces a tough challenge as they travel southwest to play at No. 6 seed Florien, which stands at 30-2 on the season.
That game is set to tip off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florien High School.
“They are supposed to be a really good shooting team from the outside,” said Lady Tigers coach Matt Herring. “They like to press and follow that up with zone (defense) in half court. They’re supposed to be an excellent team that is well-coached.”
Herring said he’s happy with the way his team has played down the stretch and hopes that carries over against the Black Cats, whose only losses were to Anacoco (61-60) and against archrival Zwolle (55-52)
“If we continue to do what we’ve been doing and play our style of ball, I think we can have a very competitive game with them,” Herring said. “There are no easy ones in the playoffs, so we expect a tough, good match-up.
“That’s definitely what it’s going to be against Florien. If we play our best ball, I think we have a chance. If we don’t, it will be our last game of the season.”