This story has been updated to include information from Episcopal athletic director Myra McClure Mansur.
No. 4 North Caddo will play its quarterfinal game against No. 5 Episcopal at Northwood High School after the LHSAA ruled the Rebels’ home gym doesn’t meet specifications.
Coach Ron Meikle said LHSAA representative Joe St. Andre visited Vivian on Thursday to take measurements of the gym and said, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t host a playoff game.” The Rebels have played five postseason games in Vivian since Meikle took over prior to the 2013-14 season, including a 100-63 first-round win over Pickering last Friday.
The benches were determined to be too close to the sidelines based on the pictures and measurements taken by St. Andre, according to Doyle. Both principals can agree to play in a gym, even if it doesn’t meet the specifications.
Episcopal athletic director Myra McClure Mansur said Friday she decided to contact the LHSAA when she noticed North Caddo didn’t appear on the list of “Schools that Meet Gymnasium Requirements for Basketball,” which gets updated every July. She said Episcopal Head of School Hugh McIntosh spoke with North Caddo Principal Annie Cherry, but Mansur wasn’t aware of how the gym didn’t meet the requirements.
“We want to play in a space that is regulation,” Mansur said. “We all want to play by the rules. We’re not trying to make a big issue of it.”
Meikle said two years ago he thoroughly inspected the facility with North Caddo’s principal and athletic director before sending in paperwork to show the gym meets the standards set forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations. But both the North Caddo principal and LHSAA representative who assisted in the original inspection have since left their positions, and Doyle said no records could be found.
“It’s unfortunate that this had to happen for the community and the city of Vivian because we play these games all year,” said Meikle, who noted the space was just three inches short of the requirement. “We fight and fight and fight to get a great record, to get a high state ranking, so you can host a playoff game.
“We achieved that goal and now we have some guy take it away from us because the power of LHSAA is in the south.”
It’s not hard to imagine why Episcopal (30-4) wouldn’t want to play in Vivian, where North Caddo went 9-1 and only lost to 5A No. 1 seed Natchitoches Central. The Rebels have won all four home playoff games under Meikle by an average margin of 24 points on their way to two straight semifinal appearances.
North Caddo posted an impressive 19-4 mark away from home this season, including a 67-42 second-round win at Doyle on Tuesday. Mansur said she knew nothing about the Rebels’ record or recent playoff history before calling the LHSAA earlier this week.
Episcopal coasted into the quarterfinals with double-digit wins over Red River and Ferriday in Baton Rouge, where it went a perfect 16-0 at home. Meikle hopes the Rebels still have strong support for Friday’s 6 p.m. tipoff.
“If I was a North Caddo teenager and I had nothing to do on a Friday night, I’d drive 15 miles just to prove we’re a great community and we deserve some respect,” Meikle said.