CROWLEY – When it comes to District 5-AAA girls’ basketball, anything is possible.
No one knows that better than Notre Dame Lady Pio coach Nolan Theriot, whose team sits at 11-6 on the year.
Theriot’s squad was the only team to defeat three-time defending district champion Northwest last season. But a loss to Church Point in the season finale ended Notre Dame’s hopes of claiming the 5-AAA crown.
This year, Northwest (11-7) is once again the odds-on favorite to win the league title, but Notre Dame can make it difficult for the Lady Raiders when they host them this evening at 6 o’clock.
The game highlights tonight’s area schedule. In other girls’ action, Midland hosts Hathaway, Crowley hosts Erath and Iota travels to Ouachita . In boys’ action involving area teams, Notre Dame hosts Welsh a Midland hosts Hathaway.
In Crowley, the Lady Pios are poised to make a statement.
“We’re playing really well right now,” said Theriot, whose team has played arguably the toughest non-district schedule of any team in the league. “We’re definitely battle tested. Playing those two 5A teams (Comeaux and Acadiana) last week sandwiched in with a good North Vermilion team really helped. We played three quality clubs right there.”
Notre Dame’s six losses have been against stiff competition. Of the six, four have been to teams in the state’s top 15. The Lady Pios fell to Class 4A’s seventh-ranked Teurlings and Class B’s 12th-ranked Midland early in the season before losing to 3A’s second-ranked Jennings and 5A’s 12th-ranked Comeaux (by three) recently.
Theriot is hopeful that his squad can duplicate their shocker last year over Northwest, when they defeated the Lady Raiders in overtime at home to kick off league play.
But, this year Northwest enters the game with a bit of a chip on its shoulder after dropping its district opener to Church Point Tuesday, 51-50.
“Now we need to win outright the rest of the season to win district,” said Northwest coach Vanessa Malone. “In this district, you can’t rely on anybody to beat anybody.”
Despite Northwest’s misfortunes Tuesday, Theriot still has the Lady Raiders as the front runners in district.
“We really like the underdog mentality,” said Theriot. “I think until we win the district, you still have to go with Northwest as the favorite. They have won it the last three years and as far as I’m concerned, until somebody knocks off the top dog, they’re the top dog.
“Church Point beat them one time, but one game doesn’t make a district. They (Northwest) are going to come out swinging. Their backs are against the wall because to go 0-2 (to start the district) would put them in a huge hole.”
As much as Theriot would love have his Lady Pios dig that hole for Northwest, he knows that a loss to the Lady Raiders will not be the end of the world for his young squad.
“We have to come out with some fire tonight, but I also don’t want my girls thinking that this game is do-or-die,” said Theriot. “Is it hard to win at Northwest, yes...but it can be done. If we win or lose Friday, the season is not over.”
In other 5-AAA girls’ action, Church Point hosts Rayne this evening. Rayne lost its league opener to Crowley Tuesday, 42-32.