Strong finish means better seeding for RA, ESJH

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 17, 2016

RESERVE — As the 2016 boys basketball regular season comes to a close this week, two St. John the Baptist Parish teams are playing for little more than pride, while two are playing for power points.

It’s power points — points accumulated with wins and loses and opponents’ wins and losses — that determine who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t and then, who plays whom.

St. Charles Catholic and West St. John did not accumulate enough to make the 32-team cut in Class 2A this season.

The Comets were 12-17 overall and at No. 50 in the Class 2A power rankings to start the week. They lost a close game to Newman on Friday, 39-35, then closed their season Tuesday night against Country Day after press time.

West St. John was 4-18 and was at No. 54 in the power rankings on Monday. The Rams lost to Riverside Academy on Friday, 92-52, and will close out the season Thursday night against Newman.

For Riverside Academy and East St. John; however, this week’s games still hold a great deal of importance as they continue to jockey for playoff position.

In District 12-2A, Riverside and Country Day each claimed half of the district title by splitting their two games this season. They are scheduled to play a rubber match at 6 p.m. Saturday at Rummel that is purely for seeding.

Riverside (19-5) started the week as the No. 2 team in Class 2A, behind Madison Prep. The Rebels were scheduled to complete their District 12-2A slate Tuesday night against Sophie B. Wright, then face non-district opponent University on Thursday and Karr on Friday. U-High was the No. 2 team in the Class 3A power points; Karr was No. 3 in Class 4A.

The Rebels still have their eyes on that No. 1 spot, and wins over these teams will certainly move them up.

“If you get the No. 1 seed, a lot of things can happen for you,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said. “It’s a little bit of an easier road for you if you get it, but it won’t be the end of the road if you don’t. We have traditionally played tougher teams in our last week of the season because we’re getting playoff ready.”

Riverside certainly is playoff prepared. The Rebels have won five of the last six state championships in their classification and the last three in a row.

East St. John has never won a state championship in basketball.

The Wildcats have made only one Top 28 appearance, losing in the 2005 Class 5A semifinals to Thibodaux.

Less than a decade ago, the East St. John boys team won its first share of a district championship, sharing the title with Destrehan in 2007. Two years later, the Wildcats won their first outright title in school history.

Friday night, they won their fifth in the last six years with a solid 53-47 victory over Terrebonne.

With the victory, the Wildcats (18-9, 10-1) clinched the district title and eliminated the Tigers (14-15, 3-7) from playoff contention.

“It felt good,” Wildcats coach Yussef Jasmine said. “It felt really good to know where we came from. We basically went into district with the worst record in the district then came back to win it. And we didn’t win it 6-4. We dominated the district, and we beat some pretty good teams. Everybody can see how we’re developing. We’re playing really well and we’ve shown that we can win it in so many different ways.”

Troy Green led with 11 points for the Wildcats. Jordan Perry scored 10. Jarrel Payton helped seal the win by going 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the final minute.

The Wildcats were at No. 19 in the Class 5A seeding on Monday, but will pick up an extra four points for winning the district. They close out the season Friday against Central Lafourche.

“We expect to be in the Top 16,” Jasmine said.