Sunkist Shootout field this week is loaded with championship squads
With many holiday tournaments taking place between Christmas and New Year’s Day and beyond, one of the best events is set for Lafayette beginning today.
The 35th Annual Sunkist Shootout opens Wednesday and runs through Saturday at St. Thomas More High School.
St. Thomas More (6-4), the defending Division II Champion, is the host school. Many teams from Metro New Orleans are at the Sunkist Shootout this year including Country Day (9-3), which is making a Sunkist appearance for the first time in a few years and coming off defeating De La Salle to win their own tournament (the Country Day Classic) last week 60-58.
Look for Sophie B Wright (12-2) to make a run in the Sunkist like they did in their own tournament which has gathered top teams a few short weeks ago. Other New Orleans Schools in the Sunkist are Archbishop Rummel (4-12), Riverside Academy (3-8), St Thomas Aquinas (2-13), Lusher Charter (7-7), Vandebilt Catholic (5-5) and Northshore (7-8).
Three schools known for their athletic programs from the Baton Rouge area are in the Sunkist this year including defending Class 5A State Champion Walker (11-4), U-High (8-6) and Southern Lab (2-9).
A few Acadiana area schools are in the the Sunkist also including the 4A State Champion Carencro Bears (9-5), Teurlings Catholic (4-6), and STM’s neighbor just across the street on Ambassador Caffery in Lafayette, the Comeaux Spartans (2-9).
In his 34nd year on the job, St. Thomas More head coach Danny Broussard has vivid memories of this tournament’s history back to the original format of public and private schools.
“It was hard to fill a 16-team bracket and with several other tournaments in the South Louisiana Area this week we made a point the past two years about the LHSAA split,” noted Broussard. “We have several schools playing in the Sunkist for the first time including Walker, U-High, Sophie B Wright, Lusher, and Northshore. We are always excited to have new teams in the Sunkist.”
The Sunkist field this year is as deep as ever. “We have four state champions in the Sunkist this year and 10 of the 16 teams were in the final four last year,” Broussard said. “The State Champions include Walker, Carencro, Madison-Ridgeland Academy from the MAIS and us.”
In the field for the third year in a row , Madison Ridgeland Academy from the Jackson, Mississippi area is guided by longtime MRA coach Richard Duease, now the all-time winningest coach in Mississippi boys basketball history with over 1,000 career boys wins. “We felt they would be a good fit again this year,” said Broussard. “They have won 13 overall MAIS championships in school history and three straight MAIS State championships. We also have played up there in Ridgeland over the past couple of years as well.”
The Sunkist championship game is set for Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
NOTE: St. Martinville, Vermilion Catholic and North Vermilion also host tournaments in the Lafayette area this week.
Sunkist Shootout Schedule for Wednesday, Dec. 26:
Northshore vs. Southern Lab at 10:30 A.M.
Teurlings Catholic vs. Riverside Academy at 11:45 A.M.
Country Day vs. Comeaux at 1:00 P.M.
St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Sophie B Wright at 2:15 P.M.
Walker vs. Archbishop Rummel at 3:30 P.M.
Madison-Ridgeland Academy vs. U-High at 4:45 P.M.
Vandebilt Catholic vs. St Thomas More at 6:00 P.M.
Lusher Charter vs Carencro at 7:15 P.M.
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Randy Pistorius is a lifelong resident of South Louisiana and is currently working in the communications field in the Baton Rouge Metropolitian Area. Randy’s start in journalism came while still in high school at De La Salle in New Orleans and that carried with him to Southeastern Louisiana University where he wrote for the Lions Roar and also worked in…