District basketball championships may have decreased in significance with the power rating system determining playoff seeding.
But ask any coach, and they’ll say a district title is a preseason goal that indicates momentum heading into the playoffs along with bragging rights over other district members.
Two leagues – District 1-4A and District 1-2A – begin the journey for a title Tuesday with the start of district action.
Loyola enters District 1-4A play with the most wins of league members with a 14-7 mark, and the Flyers could achieve a 20-win season after the 2013-14 Flyers were left out of playoffs at 19-10.
“We’re playing good team ball and playing together – that’s big for us,” said second-year coach Bill Keel, who’s served as a long-time assistant at Loyola. “Every coach wants to win the opening game in district … and we still value (the district schedule), and an opening win will establish the tone.”
Dominique Kennedy is the Flyers’ leading scorer along with a versatile post player in John Russell, but Keel added that others like Tony Dorsey, Zach Horton and Griffin Neal have elevated their play as well.
District 1-4A appears to be up for grabs with usual powers Huntington (8-11) and Fair Park (10-8) still finding their way with young teams. But both teams competed well in the Bossier Invitational tournament and will be factors.
Minden (13-6) has won nine of the last 10 games, including the Minden Tournament, as Kevin Hamilton leads the way. The Tide host Northwood (3-15); Fair Park hosts Benton (5-10), Huntington hosts Woodlawn (7-12) and the Flyers travel to North DeSoto (5-8).
In District 1-2A, Calvary finally has its full deck after Shun Brown (Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl) and Chanse Sylvie (U.S. Army Bowl All-American camp for the nation’s top juniors).
The Cavaliers (4-8) have had to play, and more importantly practice, without various football players with the Division III champions playing into mid-December.
“We have all of our guys now, and we have 10 or 11 that have played so far,” Thompson said. “Now when we have practices, we can over what we do and what (opponents) do.
“When we show our guys scouting reports and how other team’s approach us, we don’t have to put people in places where they normally might not have been.”
Brown, who intercepted a pass in the Semper Fidelis Bowl and could play corner back, receiver and return kicks at Arizona, teams up with football teammates like Sylvie, Andraez Williams and Rodarius Williams to lead the Cavs.
Calvary heads to Red River (4-10) on Tuesday and hosts Homer (4-12) on Friday, and Thompson said getting off to a solid start is crucial with heavyweights like North Caddo (18-1) and Lakeview (13-5) looming.
The Rebels advanced to the Class 2A semifinals while the Gators played in the championship game this past season.
Those two squads meet in Vivian on Friday, but North Caddo must first travel to Homer on Tuesday while Lakeview heads to Lakeside (8-10).