What started as a nice break has turned into a lengthy nightmare for northwest Louisiana boys basketball teams preparing for the first round of the playoffs Friday.
Three days of ice and snow closed area schools and kept the majority of playoff teams out of the gym, and some squads will get only one full day of practice (Thursday) before first-round games.
Even more frustrating for coaches, as many as 24 local teams will play opponents in central or south Louisiana that haven’t missed school or practice this week.
“It is crazy,” said BTW coach Donnita Rogers. “I’ve stayed in contact with the guys every day, and I text them to say something encouraging.
“I’ve texted them workouts they can do like dips and pushups to challenge the body as much as they can.”
Rogers, who still lives in Ruston after coaching the Grambling State women for four seasons, said the majority of the team lives within walking distance of the high school, so assistant coach Larry Smith was able to open the gym for a Tuesday practice that drew eight of the team’s 12 members.
BTW (20-7), a No. 13 seed in Class 3A, will host No. 20 Abbeville (18-10) in the Lions’ first home playoff game since 2006-07.
Other schools’ students are more widely distributed and haven’t been able to practice.
Captain Shreve coach Todd Martinez requested his team do ball-handling drills and run if possible.
“We’ll try to get two workouts in (Thursday and Friday morning) before we head out to (No. 6 Lafayette),” Martinez said. “It’s all about how they react no matter what the situation.
“If you use the break as an excuse, then we’ll not do well. But if you think about the rough ending we had in (District 1-5A) and use the break to get your legs back underneath you … it’s all about the approach you take.”
Expecting the inclement weather, Martinez gathered seven of his players in an impromptu practice Sunday evening.
“A short break would have been beneficial to us, but nobody wanted a three-day break,” Martinez said.
The Gators (14-16) have lost seven of eight games entering the playoffs, four losses by four points or less.
Arcadia (25-3) hosts No. 31 Oberlin, and coach Marcus Jackson said the Hornets were able to practice Tuesday.
“We hadn’t played since (Feb. 13) … so it was important to get in a good practice with good contact,” Jackson said. “We lost starting point guard Travion Fielding to an ACL injury two weeks ago, and we’ve moved (leading scorer) Eric Brown over there with Anthony Boston playing a lot as well.
“Practice was vital for us to adjust without him.”
Centenary College also has an important week with the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament starting Friday, but coach Adam Walsh said the Gents didn’t miss any practice because most students lived on campus and didn’t have to travel.
“We moved some kids who lived off campus onto the campus this week, making sure we had clear paths to walk to the gym,” Walsh said. “I’m more worried about these kids scrambling to make up tests and school work this week.”
Other high school coaches have used technology to prepare their teams.
Martinez and Fair Park coach Eddie Hamilton used the website Hudl to distribute film on opponents as well as to study themselves during the break.
“We have access to Hudl, so we can scout (Class 4A No. 22 Opelousas) properly,” said Hamilton, whose Indians (20-7) will host their first playoff game since 2006-07. “We’re communicating through texts so they can ask questions.
“I’m sharing pictures with quotes on them or of something I’m reading so we’re mentally communicating. The rest is always good, and we’ll come back fresh and be ready to receive the plan. Our confidence won’t be wavered.”
Martinez asked the Louisiana High School Athletic Association if games could be moved to Saturday, but he said the association wasn’t willing to extend the first-round deadline.
Editor’s Note: North Caddo is now playing on Friday at 5:30 p.m.