Rebels basketball hosts Ouachita in playoff showdown
It may well be the biggest playoff basketball game played at Rebel Gymnasium in more than a decade.
When No. 18 West Monroe hosts No. 2 Ouachita on Tuesday at 7 p. m. it is a game that comes with an excitement level rivaling a Friday night in November.
Football-like Excitement for basketball has rarely been seen in here, a town known for its affinity with the pigskin.
The fact that two bitter rivals meet for the fourth time in a game that will see one advance to the LHSAA Class 5A quarterfinals and one season come to an end just adds fuel to the fire.
West Monroe coach Kyle Hill has done his best to shield his team from the noise the last four days. The Rebels are here just to enjoy the moment and try to win another playoff basketball game that many have them coming into as underdogs.
“We are playing with house money,” West Monroe coach Kyle Hill said. “What do we have to lose? We aren’t supposed to be here.”
The Rebels got this opportunity by knocking off No. 15 Hahnville 51-45 on the road last Friday night.
Hill said he has been a whirlwind of preparation from security to the concession stands and game planning to where he is not letting the team or coaches get caught up in the outside excitement.
“We have tried to shelter ourselves from all the outside noise,” Hill said. “We have been in preparations to host a playoff game.”
Hill said that erasing the memories of three straight losses to Ouachita by scores of 49-31, 64-52, and 64-56 will be about handling the atmosphere and the pressure.
“More so than any other night, it is about the kids handling the moment, the pressure and the crowd,” Hill said. “It is about playing the game the right way and settling in and getting into a rhythm throughout the game.”
Ouachita will come to Rebel Gymnasium confident and with a chip on its shoulder.
The 2017 season was supposed to be a championship contending season for Ouachita before the Rebels knocked off Ouachita at the Madhouse on Millhaven in what is still one of the most significant wins in boys basketball’s recent history for West Monroe High School.
Senior Willie LaPoole (one of districts best players) and the Lions have certainly not forgotten that feeling and have been on a tear as of late, winning 10 games in a row and 12 of its last 13 outings.
LaPoole and teammate Kenderius Wallace are a handful inside around the basket and rebounding – like in the win vs Hahnville – will play a major role in deciding the outcome.
Wallace scored a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds while LaPoole had 14 points and five boards in a 69-29 blowout of No. 31 Fontainebleau last week.