THE SPECTATOR with Tryve Brackin

Tryve Brackin

Claiming the title in its own annual holiday boys’ basketball classic early last week boosted Plaquemine High to the top spot in the Ken Ramsey Power Rating system, which usually is very similar to the La. High School Athletic Assn. official rating.

The Green Devils beat fellow 3-A Albany High in the semifinals of the PHS tournament to earn a title game match with 5-A Hammond High and the locals won with relative ease.

The tourney crown pushed PHS to the top spot in Ramsey’s power rating system, leading the state’s 3-A teams with an 11.94 showing. Albany as well as Amite High were both ahead of a fourth-place Plaquemine High in the power rating list a week before the classic. Albany ended up beating St. John of Plaquemine for Third Place honors, while Amite fell off the pace in the tourney. Albany fell to the number 8 spot, while Amite dropped all the way to number 19 with a pair of tourney losses.

While PHS took over the top spot, Patterson High moved up to number two (10.3 rating), followed in order by Caldwell High, Madison High, and Vidalia High. Port Allen High, a future District 9-3A rival for PHS, maintained a seventh-place rating just behind defending state champ Wossman High. Another future district rival Lutcher High, which PHS Coach Denny Wright holds in high regard, was in the number 17 position.

St. John also benefited from victories over fellow 2-A St. James and 4-A defending champ Helen Cox. The Eagles  (20th rating) pushed ahead of upcoming district rivals Livonia (22nd), Jeanerette (26th), and Donaldsonville (29th), making the Eagles Ramsey’s top power point club from the 7-2A before league play begins. The only tourney blemish for the Eagles was a second-round loss to neighboring Plaquemine High, which certainly did not hurt their rating.

Despite finishing second in the PHS tourney, Hammond did not move from a 22nd rating in 5-A. Thibodaux, another 5-A team in the PHS classic, remained in good position with a 9th-place power rating. Thibodaux won the Consolation game honors at PHS, while Amite claimed fifth place honors to go with a pair of early tourney losses. Amite beat Class A West St. John for fith in the tourney. The WSJHS Rams are still ranked behind White Castle High in the pre-district 9-A district. WCHS is rated 8th in the state 1-A ranks, while WSJHS is 13th. Other league foes are East Iberville (22nd), North Iberville (35th), and Ascension CHS (37th).

Although Ramsey’s ratings are a good indication thus far into the hoop season, they are not the official LHSAA power points. And, a lot of basketball remains to be played, including the entire district slates. Plaquemine did make a solid move as far as showing a capability to return to the state tourney in March. The fact they are a very experienced, senior-based hoop club is an important variable. However, district rivals Port Allen (another final four club last year as well as the local district’s champ) and an upstart and talented, young Lutcher High team could give PHS plenty of testing in upcoming weeks. The Green Devils must stay focused, healthy, and ready to play with consistency and confidence.

The fact St. John did so well in the PHS tourney falls right into the planning of Coach James Papillion. He feels he has the talent to return to the state playoffs and perhaps battle off Livonia for district honors this season. Papillion told me he wants to see steady growth as the season progresses for the Eagles, who got a late start to the season due to so many players participating in the state football playoffs. Victories over 4-A defending champ Helen Cox as well as St. James in the tourney is a clear sign of growth in recent games. Only a few days back, St. John could not hold up against fellow 2-A Dunham School. Their tourney performance certainly showed improvement during the holidays.