A trip to Springfield will be a welcome reprieve and a chance to concentrate on basketball for one Bass Pro Tournament of Champions team.
The Madison Preparatory Academy Chargers (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) fell victim to the unprecedented Louisiana flooding events of 2016. USA Today noted that some parts of Louisiana received more than two feet of rain. The estimated volume of 7.1 trillion gallons of water is three times the amount of rain Hurricane Katrina dropped on Louisiana in 2005.
Flooding killed 13 people, damaged 60,000 homes and triggered an estimated 30,000 rescues.
Madison Prep boys basketball coach Jeff Jones, whose own home was damaged by floodwater, said the impact of the 2016 flood still lingers in Baton Rouge.
“People are still not in their homes. They’re living in trailers in front of their homes,” Jones said. “This tournament was a blessing for us just to get away.”
Several players on the Chargers, including four-star recruit Josh Anderson, were impacted by flooding. Anderson signed to play for Western Kentucky.
Water rose as high as six to seven feet in some Baton Rouge homes.
“FEMA and Red Cross and whatnot were overwhelmed,” Jones said. “It did put a little bit of strain (on players attending basketball practice). Instead of living at home with a 10-minute commute to the school, you’re living in hotels an hour away.”
Madison Prep joined the field of eight teams in May 2016, a month after Springfield Public Schools announced the initial field. Father Tolton Regional Catholic (Columbia, Missouri), the 2016 Missouri Class 3 state champions, withdrew to be replaced by Madison Prep, the 2016 Louisiana Class 2A state champions.
The change followed the transfer of Michael Porter Jr. and his brother, Jontay Porter, of Father Tolton. Their father, Michael Porter Sr., left his position on the coaching staff of the University of Missouri women’s basketball team to take a job on the men’s team at the University of Washington.
Michael Porter Jr., who averaged 28.5 points per game his junior year, announced his commitment to Washington soon after. Jontay Porter is verbally committed to play for the Washington Huskies.
The Porters’ departure led to a late invitation for Madison Prep, which Jones readily accepted.
“I actually heard it was the best tournament in America,” Jones said. “It seems like a very, very professionally run big-time event.”
Jones is in his seventh season coaching at Madison Prep, which is a young school in just its eighth year of existence. In that timeframe, the Chargers have won two Louisiana Class 2A state championships, including the 2016 title.
McDonald’s All-American Jerrell Martin, now with the Memphis Grizzlies, graduated from Madison Prep in 2013. In addition to Anderson, Josh LeBlanc and Kobe Julia are receiving recruitment from NCAA Division I programs. Three more basketball players hold Division I football scholarship offers.
“We’ve had some really good players come through here in a short period,” Jones said. “We try to play up tempo. We try to get a lot in transition, we try to let defense drive our offense.”
Madison Prep will face Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada), the No. 4-ranked team in the USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings, Thursday at 5 p.m. in the opening game of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
“We’re going to give it all we’ve got for three days straight and enjoy every bit,” Jones said. “We’re excited and happy to be there, we’re sure going to give our best and try to give people the best show possible.”
2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions
Jan. 12-14, JQH Arena, Springfield
Reserved seating, lower level: $45 for three nights or $15 for single night
General admission, upper level and bleachers:
Adults: $36 for three nights or $12 for single night
Students: $30 for three nights or $10 for single night
Thursday, Jan. 12
5 p.m. Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nevada) vs. Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
6:30 p.m. Republic (Republic, Missouri) vs. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California)
8 p.m. Kickapoo (Springfield, Missouri) vs. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Florida)
9:30 p.m. Memphis East (Memphis, Tennessee) vs. Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, Georgia)
Friday, Jan. 13
4:30 p.m. Consolation semifinal
6 p.m. Consolation semifinal
8 p.m. Championship semifinal
9:30 p.m. Championship semifinal
Saturday, Jan. 14
2:30 p.m. Seventh-place game
4 p.m. Fifth-place game
6 p.m. Great Southern Bank Slam Dunk Contest
7 p.m. Third-place game
9 p.m. Championship final