Coaches are fond of saying that in the playoffs you encounter the really good teams sooner or later.
For Northwest High and Port Barre, the good teams are making postseason appearances immediately.
Northwest High, seeded No. 17, travels to play 16th-seeded Iowa Thursday night in a Class 3A playoff match-up.
For Port Barre, the 20th seed, it’s much the same story.
The Red Devils play at No. 13 Brusly, a team that defeated top-seeded University High earlier this month.
Port Barre and Brusly also tip off Thursday at 6 p.m.
Ville Platte, the winner of District 5-3A, which includes Port Barre and second-place Northwest, finds the initial postseason road a little easier.
The Bulldogs, last year’s runner-up to state champion U-High, is the second-seeded team. VPHS is at home for the first round of the playoffs against No. 31 Abbeville.
Northwest girls’ basketball coach Latasha Malone has sufficient pre-game information about Iowa (20-8).
Now it’s up to her team to follow the plan, Malone said.
“We have some film on Iowa and a scouting report. We know they are a good all-around team, athletic with a good guard and a forward,”said Malone.
Malone also expects her team to face Iowa’s pressure-oriented defense for most of the game.
The Raiders, Malone said, also plan to demonstrate a pressure defense, something which allowed Northwest (15-10, 6-3) to finish as the 5-3A runner-up to Ville Platte.
Northwest will also bring a senior-dominated team to Iowa.
Malone said she plans to start her five seniors on Thursday night.
Those include forward Shamira Frank (17.0 points per game),point guard Kathan Arvie (13.0), forward Sarah Brignac (10.0) guard Abrijana Gordwin (8.0) and Alexis Harris (9.0).
In a story published in Tuesday’s The Daily Advertiser, Malone expressed displeasure at being placed in the same bracket as U-High.
“I don’t like our draw. I don’t like our draw at all. I mean we are in the same side of the bracket with University. I’m not saying I don’t want to play (U-High). I just don’t want to play them that early,” Malone told the Advertiser.
The Red Devils (17-9) enter the playoffs on somewhat of a roller coaster.
Port Barre was in second behind district leader Ville Platte at one point in the season, but then lost two straight league games.
One of those contests was at Northwest, a defeat that eventually moved them into third.
Port Barre has lost two of the last three, but during the last month, the Devils have also won five of the last seven.
Brusly is 20-7 and features a trio of double digit scorers that include Caitlyn Williams (12.0), Shandricka Pierson (11.0) and Madison LaPrairie (10). LaPrairie scored 20 in the Panthers’ victory over U-High.
Key performers for the Red Devils include Sharona and Rona Hardy in addition to Kristen Thomas.
Ville Platte finished the 5-3A schedule (10-0). The Bulldogs have not lost a game since the Northwest High Holiday Tournament when they fell to Northside 58-54.
Since then, the Bulldogs 26-4 have won every game, including the third-place contest to host Northwest 65-53.
Ville Platte’s key players include Arkansas-Little Rocksignee Deja McKinney, who averages 22.0 points.
Other weapons the Bulldogs will display against Abbeville(16-14) include Mija McKinney and Brianna Pete.
AREA FIRST-ROUND GIRLS’ PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
•11 Beau Chene (15-7) at 10 St. Thomas More (21-6)-Thursday 6p.m.
•17 Northwest (15-10) at 16 Iowa (20-8) – Thursday 6 p.m.
•20 Port Barre (17-9) at 13 Brusly (20-9) – Thursday 6 p.m.
•31 Abbeville (16-12) at 2 Ville Platte (26-4) TBA
•21 Academy of The Sacred Heart (14-11) at 12 FrenchSettlement (18-11) – Thursday 6 p.m.
•26 Opelousas Catholic (13-9) at 7 North Caddo (19-11)-Thursday 6 p.m.
•20 Northeast (16-14) at 13 Mamou (22-8)- Thursday 6 p.m.
•32 Grambling (7-16) at 1 North Central (26-3) – Thursday 6p.m.
•22 Sacred Heart-VP (13-11) at 11 Madison Prep (25-7) – TBA
•19 Basile (13-9) at 14 Grand Lake (20-6)- Thursday 6 p.m.