Predicting the LHSAA high school boys basketball state champions for 2022

LHSAA boys basketball brackets were released on Monday and high school sports writers around Louisiana from the USA Today Sports network made their predictions on who would be crowned champion in March.

Here are the picks:

Class 5A

LaMar Gafford: Zachary: After seeing them in last year’s Class 5A title game, the Broncos have gotten better. Jalen Bolden and Brandon Hardy are an unstoppable duo.

Emely Hernandez: Ruston: The Bearcats have taken down the big basketball schools in their area and have the talent to take it all the way. 

Koki Riley: Zachary: Zachary hasn't lost since Dec. 9 and is undefeated against Class 5A schools.

Ethan Sands: Zachary: With an undefeated record against Class 5A opponents, Zachary will continue its success to another state title.

Chris Singleton: Zachary: It will be hard for anyone in Class 5A to knock off the defending state champions.

Jimmy Watson: Zachary: The Broncos (28-2) are a tough out with Jalen Bolden and Brandon Rodgers-Hardy in the lineup.

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Class 4A

Gafford: Carver: The Rams were so close to a title last year and have much of the same core back. Dorian Finister gets it done for Carver this year.

Hernandez: Neville: With P.D. McCraney and McKennald "Baba" Armstead, Neville is scary with the ball in its hands.

Riley: Carver: George Washington Carver is just one of two schools in the state to beat Zachary and it has Texas A&M signee Solomon Washington, the No. 1 recruit in the state according to the 247Sports Composite.

Sands: Neville: With explosive guards in P.D. McCraney and Baba Armstead, Neville is a dark horse against Carver, but will have extra motivation to make an upset.

Singleton: Carver: Class 4A is loaded with great teams, but I think Carver gets it done after losing to McMain in the state championship game last season.

Watson: Carver: The Rams (24-2) get plenty of support from 6-foot-5 point guard Dorian Finister, Louisiana’s No. 3 ranked player, and that should be enough.

Class 3A

Gafford: Bossier: Joseph Manning is a solid leader for the Bearkats.

Hernandez: Wossman: Wossman has only fallen to 5A opponents and No.1 Madison Prep. Going up against Madison Prep and winning the title would be icing on the cake. 

Riley: Madison Prep: Madison Prep is undefeated against Class 3A competition and features Seton Hall commit Percy Daniels at center.

Sands: Madison Prep: Madison Prep has already defeated Wossman and has the right formula to get it done again. 

Singleton: Madison Prep: Madison Prep is always a contender in Class 3A and should get it done again this season.

Watson: Bossier: The Bearkats (24-7) have big game experience and Marquis Harris and Joe Manning won’t back down.

Class 2A

Gafford: Lakeview: The Gators have been close the last few years, but solid guard play led by Javonte Howard nets them the title this year.

Hernandez: Port Allen: The reigning champs are looking for a repeat and have yet to lose to a Class 2A school. 

Riley: Port Allen: Port Allen hasn't lost to a Class 2A school and is 6-1 this month.

Sands: Port Allen: It's looking like back-to-back state championships for Port Allen if it can get past Lakeview. 

Singleton: Port Allen: Lakeview is the No. 1 seed in Class 2A, but Port Allen is the defending state champion looking for repeat.

Watson: Lakeview: Senior Javonte Howard and Alonzo Driver are the leaders of the top ranked Gators (26-4). They’ll lead the way.

Class 1A

Gafford: Northwood-Lena: I think the Gators can pull it off with their trio of juniors in Omarion Layssard, Jonathon Barron and Randy Morris – especially if healthy.

Hernandez: North Central: The Hurricanes were so close last year and combined with their 10-game win streak will secure the title. 

Riley: North Central: North Central has won 10 consecutive games and has scored over 100 points in three of those matchups.

Sands: North Central: North Central has been dominant over the last 10 games, catching fire at just the right time. 

Singleton: North Central: After losing in the semifinals last season, North Central will be motivated to finish the deal this season.

Watson: North Central: The Hurricanes (28-5) were knocked out in the semifinals by Arcadia last year. It won’t happen this time.

Class B

Gafford: Simsboro: I’ve learned my lesson in picking against The Boro, I’ll never do it again. Senior Nick Maryland is a primetime performer in the fourth quarter.

Hernandez: Simsboro: With wins against 5A and 4A schools the reigning champs will defend the crown.

Riley: Simsboro: Simsboro has lost just three times this season and owns wins over Class 5A and 4A schools.

Sands: Simsboro: In Class B, the defending champs are tough competition for any team that gets in their way. 

Singleton: Simsboro: Simsboro doesn’t lose often and should get it done in a tough Class B bracket.

Watson: Simsboro: The defending champs should be the defending champs once again when the dust settles.

Class C 

Gafford: Hornbeck: Class C is wide open, but I think the Hornets and senior Jaren Mitcham are battle tested, especially after closing the regular season with wins over Simpson and Northwood-Lena.

Hernandez: Calvin: Despite two losses to the same Class B opponent Calvin has asserted dominance over 3A schools, leading them to a title. 

Riley: Calvin: Calvin has only lost twice and that was to the same team, Choudrant both times in December.

Sands: Calvin: With only two losses to the same squad, Calvin is posed to continue its success in Class C. 

Singleton: Calvin: Anything can happen in the smallest classification, but I’ll pick top-seed Calvin to win it.

Watson: Gibsland-Coleman: Terrance James is a formidable force for No. 3 seed giving Gibsland-Coleman a chance to hoist the trophy.

Division I

Gafford: St. Paul’s: All four of the Wolves’ losses have been by four points or less, including games against Newman and Zachary. You can’t beat that consistency.

Hernandez: Scotlandville: Scotlandville went up against multiple 5A programs and came out victorious. 

Riley: Scotlandville: Scotlandville has a real chance in a Division I field that has no clear favorite. 

Sands: Scotlandville: With competition against high-profile teams in 5A, Scotlandville is looking to bring home the title. 

Singleton: Scotlandville: St. Paul’s and Archbishop Shaw are top seeds here, but you can never count out Scotlandville at the state tournament.

Watson: St. Paul’s: After losing in the state semifinals last year, the Wolves (25-4) make Covington a title town.

Division II

Gafford: Liberty Magnet: Jacob Wilson averages 19.6 points and 6.3 rebounds as one of the top guards in Louisiana.

Hernandez: Liberty: Close loses and strong talent fuel the run for the title.

Riley: Liberty: Liberty has a stingy defense and nearly beat top Class 5A seed Zachary.

Sands: Liberty: Liberty's talent and tenacious defense led it to tight competitions with tough opponents, preparing it to take home the state title. 

Singleton: Liberty: Liberty is a very talented bunch and I look forward to seeing its run to state championship.

Watson: University Lab: The Cubs (18-5) got slammed in the 2021 championship game. Redemption tastes sweet.

Division III

Gafford: Newman: The junior duo of Chris Lockett and Canin Jefferson lead the Greenies to their first title since current coach Randy Livingston led them to three straight titles from 1991-93.

Hernandez: Newman: Looking for redemption after finishing second last year.

Riley: Newman: Arch Manning and Isidore Newman have wins over Edna Karr and Liberty while losing just once this year. 

Sands: Newman: Arch Manning winning a basketball state title before the school wins a title in football would be insane.  

Singleton: Newman: Newman lost in the state championship game last season, so it is hungry to bring it home.

Watson: Newman: Junior Camin Jefferson leads the state’s best D-III team to the title.

Division IV

Gafford: Calvary: La'Bree Williams leads the Cavaliers to a long-awaited title.

Hernandez: Calvary: Top talent ropes in the title but it wont come easy.

Riley: Calvary: Calvary Baptist has senior forward La'Bree Williams, the No. 4 player in the state according to the 247Sports Composite.

Sands: Calvary: Calvary has too much talent to come up short of the state championship. 

Singleton: Southern Lab: For a Division IV team, Southern Lab has a lot of talent and depth. It’ll be hard to stop in this bracket.

Watson: Calvary:  La’Bree Williams is the best player in the state, and he’ll show why.

Division V

Gafford: Jehovah-Jireh: The Warriors win their fifth straight title as J.P. Ricks leads the way.

Hernandez: Jehova-Jireh: After taking over the No. 1 spot Jehova-Jireh is not letting up until it's crowned champions.

Riley: Jehova-Jireh: Jehova-Jireh beat Family Christian, the No. 1 seed, earlier in the season but this state title is wide open for the taking.

Sands: Jehova-Jireh: With a win over the top seed, Jehova-Jireh will prove that it's the best team in Division V. 

Singleton: Jehovah-Jireh: Jehovah-Jireh gets overlooked due to its small school status but it isn't afraid to play with the big boys.

Watson: Jehovah-Jireh: John Paul Ricks will celebrate with a state championship performance.