Crowley High, Notre Dame set to open league play tonight

CROWLEY – The Crowley Gents will begin their District 4-AAA title defense this evening when they play host to the Westlake Rams.

“It’s always an exciting time when district rolls around,” said CHS coach Derrick Boone, looking ahead to the 7 o’clock tipoff. “And to open up at home is big. People always say that getting that first district win is always the toughest.”

On paper, Westlake doesn’t seem to present a major challenge for the Gents. The Rams enter the contest on a two-game winning streak, but they’ve only won two other games prior to that and sit at 4-13. Their victories have been over Merryville (twice), Johnson Bayou and Jennings.

“They (Westlake) don’t have the most impressive record, but you can’t really go by that,” said Boone, whose squad is 11-7 on the year and ranked No. 12 in the recent LSWA Class AAA prep basketball polls. “We have to play one way - hard, no matter who we are playing. The worst thing to do, especially in district, is to take anyone lightly because anything can happen.”

The Gents are coming off an impressive win over rival Rayne Tuesday. The Gents held the Wolves scoreless in the fourth quarter and walked away with a 50-35 victory.

“The Rayne win was a momentum booster for our guys,” said Boone. “It was encouraging the way we beat them. We played well on both sides of the ball for the most part and you always want to win heading into district.

“The guys are ready. We had an extremely good practice Wednesday and I think we’re ready. We’re getting better every game so you’re going to see a better team on the court Friday than the one you saw Tuesday.”

The Crowley Ladies will also be in action, entertaining the Westlake Lady Rams at 6 p.m. in what will be a key league tilt for both teams.

Both the Ladies and the Lady Rams enter the game at 2-0 in District 4-AAA play.

“This is a very big game for us,” said CHS coach Alton Allen, whose squad split with the Lady Rams last season. “It’s going to be big for us to protect our home court because having to go to Westlake and Northwest in the second round and trying to win over there is going to be difficult.”

The Lady Rams enter the contest with an overall mark of 13-6. They are coming off a 72-61 victory over defending district champion Northwest on Tuesday.

The Lady Rams defeated Eunice (74-49) in their district opener last week and are averaging over 50 points per game on the year.

“They have basically the same team from last year,” said Allen. “They like to run the court and do a lot of scoring in transition so we have to make sure that we are able to get back on defense.

“We’re going to have our hands full. We have to protect the basketball, limit our turnovers and be able to knock down our free throws.”

Notre Dame will also be in action in a pair of key 5-AAA contests in Abbeville.

Class AAA’s No. 3 ranked Lady Pios will take the court first against defending district champion Abbeville at 6 p.m. before the Pios take the court at roughly 7 against Class AAA’s No. 1-ranked Wildcats.

The Lady Pios and the Lady Wildcats are both 2-0 in league play and the winner will take the outright lead heading into the final two games of the first half of district play.

“With Kaplan losing to North Vermilion the other day, whoever wins this ballgame kind of controls the first half of district,” said ND coach Nolan Theriot. “If you go along the lines of you have to win at home and try to steal some on the road, this is not really a must win. But it’s a big game and it will be a battle.”

Theriot’s main concern is containing returning All-District performer Rachell Bessard. The senior forward, who leads Abbeville in scoring, poured in 25 points in the Lady Cats’ 54-39 victory over Erath Tuesday.

“They are an inside-first-type team,” said Theriot of Abbeville. “We have to limit her (Bessard) touches and if she does get it, we have to make her work hard to get it. She’s definitely a big presence in the lane.

“I think we are ready for the challenge. We haven’t exactly been lighting it up from the perimeter, but all year long our girls have risen to the occasion in big games and this is definitely a big game.”

The Pios will also have a stiff mountain to climb.

Abbeville won eight of their first 10 games but had to forfeit all of the victories due to an ineligible player. Since then, the Cats have reeled off eight straight wins, including victories over perennial powers Lafayette, St. Martinville and North Central.

“Abbeville is extremely talented,” said ND coach Raymond Griffin. “They do a great job rebounding and defending. We’re going to have our work cutout for us.

“However, if we play up to our capability, I think it will be a good game. I think we’ll have a chance if we play up to the level that we’re capable of.”

In other prep action tonight, Midland hosts Hathaway and Iota will entertain Pine Prairie.

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