CROWLEY – Playing against the best competition the state has to offer has its disadvantages.
But it also has its advantages.
Just ask the Notre Dame Lady Pios, who struggled at times early in the 2012 season against some of the top teams in nearly every classification, all the while preparing themselves for postseason.
When the regular season was finally over, the results were clear: the Lady Pios owned an overall record of 31-10 and also owned another (their 11th straight) district title under head coach Tara Young.
More importantly, however, they were informed Monday morning that their hard work and that difficult schedule had paid huge dividends in the form of them being awarded the No. 1 seed in the Division IV playoffs that begin later this week.
“We didn’t know for sure or not that we were going to be able to pull it out,” said Young, whose team also went 3-1 in the ESA Spooktacular Tournament this past weekend. “But the Spooktacular is always very good and we were able to get enough points to kind of take over that top spot.”
Notre Dame, the Division IV defending state champion, lost to Division I’s No. 2 seed, St. Amant, in the first round of the ESA Tournament Friday before cruising to three straight victories - defeating Division III’s No 5 seed, St. Louis; Division V’s No. 5 seed, Ascension Episcopal and Divison III’s No. 3 seed, Teurlings.
Overall during the season, the Lady Pios have played 21 games against teams seeded in the top five of their respective classes and they have won 12 of those.
In Division I, the Lady Pios had lost to top seeded Mt. Carmel and No. 4 seed St. Joseph.
They fared a little better in Division II where they went 2-1 against No. 1 seed St. Thomas More. And they also have a victory over No. 4 St. Scholastica. Their only other loss in the division was to No. 2 St. Martinville.
The Lady Pios are 6-2 against Division III competiton, owning victories over No. 1 Ursuline, No. 3 Teurlings and No. 5 St. Louis.
Other notable victories for the Lady Pios came against Division IV’s No. 2 De La Salle and Division V’s No. 5 Ascension Episcopal.
“There’s that fine line, you know: You have to have that tough schedule, but you have to keep your team believing that they’ve got what it takes,” said Young. “We hit a few rough patches this year, for sure, but it has paid off.
“If you’ve gone through the season and you haven’t faced any of those top caliber teams, you could be shell-shocked when you get into the playoffs. In the playoffs, things are moving quicker, the kids are bigger and they’re running quicker offenses. If you haven’t seen that, you’re going to be frozen.
“So playing the schedule we play, it helps to potentially avoid being shell shocked.”
Young is also hoping her team’s performance this past weekend will springboard the Lady Pios into another deep playoff run.
“Getting a chance to face teams of that caliber this late in the season hopefully will prepare us for what we will see,” said Young, whose team drew a bye in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Because I don’t know if there are any teams in our division that look like St. Amant or Mt. Carmel or St. Joseph’s so I think that gives us somewhat of an advantage.”
The Lady Pios will take on the winner of this week’s bi-district matchup between No. 16 Port Allen and No. 17 West St. Mary. That regional playoff game will probably be held Monday at A.B. Dore gym.
The Iota Lady Bulldogs also earned a bye in the Division IV playoffs after taking runner-up honors in District 1-2A behind league champion Notre Dame.
The Lady Dogs, who finished the year with a record of 32-6, move straight into the regional round where they will take on the winner of this week’s bi-district matchup between No. 11 Sacred Heart of New Orleans and No. 22 St. Mary. That game will also be next week.
The Rayne Lady Wolves and the Church Point Lady Bears will represent Acadia Parish in the Division III playoffs.
Rayne finished second in District 3-3A behind Teurlings and earned the No. 6 seed in the playoffs after going 18-9 on the season. The Lady Wolves received a first-round bye and will be in action next week when they take on the winner of this week’s bi-district matchup between No. 10 Brusly and No. 23 Loyola Prep.
Church Point was 10-18 on the year and is the No. 22 seed. The Lady Bears will travel to New Orleans Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. game against No. 11 Lusher Charter.
Northside Christian’s Lady Warriors will be making another postseason appearance as they earned the No. 12 seed in Division V.
The Lady Warriors earned runner-up honors in District 1-1A behind Ascension Episcopal. They will take on No. 21 Family Christian at home Thursday at 5:30 p.m.