Three boys basketball teams with state title aspirations will start their journey at home on Friday hosting first-round games.
Bossier (23-7), the No. 2 seed in Class 3A, takes its 13-game winning streak against No. 31 De La Salle (20-8).
Byrd (27-5), the No. 3 seed in Class 5A, won a share of its first district title since 1996-97, also the last time the Yellow Jackets had at least 27 wins. The Yellow Jackets face No. 30 Ouachita (18-11).
Huntington is searching for its first state title, and the 4A No. 7 Raiders (24-2) take a 10-game winning streak against No. 26 Franklin Parish (12-15).
The Bearkats are looking for their sixth straight state tournament appearance, two in Class 3A the previous three in Class 4A, winning the only title in that span in its last 4A season (2011).
“A team that’s won 20 games is a tough first-round opponent as a No. 2 seed,” said Bossier coach Jeremiah Williams. “When you’ve won that many, you’ve found something that works.
“They are 3-point oriented, so we’ve got to defend the line in this game.”
The Yellow Jackets’ program hasn’t won a title since 1994, the first of four consecutive 30-win seasons under former coach Delbert Clinton.
They’ll face a Ouachita that lost almost all of its players, including Alabama football receiver Cam Sims at midterm, from a No. 1 seed and runner-up team in 2013.
“Ouachita has a history of being good, and there’s more parity in Class 5A than there is in the past,” Byrd coach Rusty Johnson said. “Every team will catch our attention … but our players do know Ouachita’s name and most were at the state championship game last season.”
The Lions are still a dangerous team with splits against No. 12 Ruston, Class 3A No. 4 Richwood and Class 4A No. 19 Fair Park (beat Byrd).
Huntington has 10 seniors, the most of any Mack Jones team. Franklin Parish skids into the playoffs as losers of eight of their last 10.
Other notable area Class 5A home games include 5A No. 2 Natchitoches Central (26-5) hosting No. 31 Slidell (18-11) and No. 12 Ruston (20-9) hosting No. 21 Jesuit.
In Class 2A, No. 2 Lakeview (24-4) has won its last 11 heading into a matchup with No. 31 Runnels (16-14). Many (18-7), the No. 10 seed, hosts No. 23 Newman (13-15).
Arcadia (24-3), the No. 1 seed in Class 1A, will take on No. 32 St. Martin’s Episcopal (10-15), No. 7 Grambling (16-9) hosts No. 26 Montgomery (12-11) and No. 12 Plain Dealing (18-8) welcomes No. 21 East Iberville (13-16).
The Lions knocked off Arcadia in the last week of the regular season, adding to wins like Parkway, BTW, Airline (twice), Northwood, Green Oaks and North Webster.
Florien heads Class B at No. 1, and the Blackcats (38-3) hosts No. 32 Saline (0-26). No. 7 Zwolle (25-10) brings in No. 27 Maurepas (11-18) and No. 14 Doyline (16-14) hosts No. 19 Grace Christian (24-8).
All four area Class C teams will host. No. 9 Summerfield (20-14) brings in No. 24 Bishop McManus (6-11); No. 8 Ebarb welcomes No. 25 Hackberry (4-25); No. 5 Pleasant Hill (17-16) starts with No. 28 First Baptist Christian (1-17) and No. 6 Gibsland-Coleman will try to avoid being No. 27 Downsville’s (0-20) first win.
Three teams travel as No. 17 seeds
The only difference between a No. 16 and No. 17 seed is the location of the first round game.
Class 5A Captain Shreve, Class 3A North Webster and Class 2A Homer fell into that No. 17 slot and will travel in the first round, but that might not be a negative.
Win in the first round, and they have a date with the No. 1 team on their home court.
Shreve’s blow out of Byrd followed by two competitive losses and near misses against 5A No. 2 Natchitoches Central and 3A No. 4 Richwood shows the Gators can be dangerous.
Captain Shreve (17-10) heads to No. 16 Acadiana (19-9), who’s won seven of their last eight games.
North Webster (23-9) already beat No. 16 Union Parish (15-13) in Farmerville 46-35.
“We’re comfortable playing in their gym, but they were missing three starters because of football,” said North Webster coach Rodney Thrash. “They were the runners-up last year (in 3A), so they know the way and they know what they are fighting for.
“I thought we deserved a little higher than a 17 seed.”
The Farmers started 1-7 but went 14-6 in their last 20, including wins over Ouachita and Richwood.
One team to beat Union in that stretch? Homer (14-14), who travels to No. 16 Jeanerette (18-11). The Pelicans also beat Arcadia, Grambling (twice) and 4A Minden.
Other notable teams on the road include 5A No. 27 Southwood (18-11) at No. 6 Dutchtown (24-6); 4A No. 19 Fair Park (18-10) at No. 14 Neville (18-7); 4A No. 25 Minden at No. 8 Salmen (21-8); 3A No. 26 Evangel at No. 7 Patterson (19-4); 2A No. 24 Calvary (10-11) at No. 9 French Settlement (22-5); 2A No. 28 North Caddo (9-18) at No. 5 Opelousas Catholic (23-4).
Southwood knocked off Byrd and Shreve to take the District 1-5A lead before losing three of its last four games.
Fair Park has won 12 of its last 13 games and is 17-6 after a 1-4 start.
Calvary is making its first playoff appearance since 2010.