No sport, no vote; new pitching rule top meeting
First, some closing thoughts on the recent LHSAA general meeting that yielded less than earthshaking revelations:
1. There will continue to be classes B and C, although it’s senseless to have three-team districts among the state’s schools with the lowest enrollment numbers. But that’s the way the small school principals want it.
2. Louisiana high school principals also continued to pretend they are whales in a pool of goldfish by not paring down their classes from seven (C through 5A) to five, with four for football. This ain’t Texas, podnas, which has enough schools to fill six football classes.
3. Crescent City Umpires’ assignment secretary Shane Rigdon is breathing easier, as are baseball officials throughout Louisiana. The anticipated proposal to allow competing coaches to choose the umpires for playoff games (instead of the LHSAA), died silently when its author, Lafayette High principal Dr. Lawrence Thornton Jr., was a no-show.
4. In 2012, Jesuit senior pitcher Emerson Gibbs threw a record 193 pitches over 13 innings in a game against Archbishop Rummel. That mark may stand forever after principals voted to limit the number of pitches a player may throw in a game.
Under the new rule, a pitcher is limited to a max of 125 pitches in a game. The rule also sets a formula that correlates the number of pitches thrown with the number of days rest required before climbing the mound again. This rule does not apply to softball pitchers, however, who have no pitch limit.
5. To me, the most significant change takes voting rights away from members whose school does not participate in a particular sport. Translated, this means that schools in classes B and C, all-girls’ schools and other schools that do not participate in football cannot vote on items that pertain to that sport.
6. Likewise, because schools deemed select and non-select now have separate playoffs, such schools may vote in matters that involve their playoff format only.
7. Volleyball coaches will no longer have to be faculty members of a school. Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, a certified CECP coach (Coaches Education and Certification Program) may run the team. That means if Danny Tullis returns to Pope John Paul II to lead the Lady Jaguars to a fourth straight Division IV volleyball title, he can get full credit for his work.
Now, on to basketball.
The power of rankings
De La Salle seems to have the best chance of winning a select division basketball championship.
The Cavaliers enter the week with a 21-4 record and a stranglehold on the District 10-3A top spot.
As the No. 3 seed in the 12-team Division II (watered down when public school principals swayed the vote for separate playoffs), it appears that the Cavs may face No. 1 St. Thomas More in the semifinals if they hold their position.
One of De La Salle’s few losses came against the top seed, 64-63, in a tournament on Dec. 30. The Cavs have won seven straight since.
St. Augustine (20-4) is currently the No. 2 seed in Division I and locked in a championship battle with John Curtis (22-6) for the District 9-5A title.
The top seed in Division I is Scotlandville, which has won 23 of 24 games and looking all the more like select division champion. There are just 13 teams in Division I. All but Archbishop Shaw (7-17) have winning records.
Brother Martin (19-6) is presently the No. 5 seed, Holy Cross (15-7) is No. 9, Jesuit (14-9) is No. 11 and Rummel (15-9) is No. 12.
Among the top 5 is also St. Paul’s, holding the No. 4 spot with a 20-5 record.
Numbers don’t always tell a true story.
Archbishop Hannan is having an outstanding season, having posted a 22-2 record and on a 16-game win streak entering the week. But the Hawks are the No. 6 seed in select Division III.
That’s not bad considering that there are 23 teams in this group. But ranked above Hannan are Dunham (19-4), Riverside Academy (16-6), Country Day (14-6), Episcopal (24-4) and David Thibodaux (14-10). So the Hawks will need to be at their best when these playoffs start.
One team that was at its best was Archbishop Chapelle when it clashed with Catholic League nemesis Mount Carmel at home on Jan. 23. The Chipmunks defeated the defending Class 5A champion, 39-37.
The victory was Chapelle’s first over the Cubs since 2012 when the Chipmunks last won the girls’ Catholic League title.
The two were scheduled to meet again at MCA on Feb. 2.
There are just nine teams in select Division I for girls. Five have winning records.
The highest seed among Catholic schools is Dominican (21-7 record) at No. 4. John Curtis (19-2), McKinley (15-5) and Evangel (23-6) are the respective top three teams.
Mount Carmel is in the midst of a difficult campaign. The Cubs are ranked No. 8 as result of their 7-15 record. But they did get the better of archrival Dominican, 41-39, on Jan. 26.
Another reigning state champion, Ursuline, was expected to be the titan of Division II, but the Lions (16-9, 5-1 in district play) entered the week one game behind Cabrini (16-12, 6-0).
The two were scheduled to meet at Ursuline on Jan. 31. A Lions win will have tied them for the lead and assured them of a seed higher than the Crescents, who hold the No. 9 power ranking.
St. Mary’s Academy is a beneficiary of the split playoff system. Sporting a 14-10 record, the Cougars’ power point ranking places them No. 5 to start the week. But above them are powers Northlake Christian (16-3), Lee Magnet (19-10), St. Thomas Aquinas (23-3) and Notre Dame (18-8).
St. Charles Catholic (13-7) is No. 9 among 24 seeded teams.