Tigers prepared for first game of Marsh Madness

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St. Mary's boys and girls basketball teams, and the student body and staff, prayed for a fair, just and accident free game tonight to close a pep rally this morning. Photo by Juanice Gray

Submitted by St. Mary’s School

Juanice Gray contributed to this article

The St. Mary’s boys’ basketball team will kick off their journey in the Division IV playoffs tonight, March 3, as they gear up to face #13 seed, St. Martin’s Episcopal. The game is at St. Mary’s at 6:30 p.m.

St. Mary’s comes in as the #4 seed and will likely host two home playoff games pending a win tonight. The Tigers really like their chances to make another run at the title, coming so close in the 2017-18 season as they were Division IV runners-up.

The Tigers are led by 6 foot, 8 inch senior forward, Thomas Howell. Howell, a University of Monroe signee, is averaging 25 points per game, 16 rebounds and five blocks per game. Thomas was chosen this year as member of the West All-Star team to be played in Shreveport, March 21. He has emerged as one of the top players in Louisiana and been named to the Division IV All-State team the past two seasons.

“Any success the Tigers have this post season must go through the big man,” Coach Tom Collins said. “Everything we do as a team, must go through Thomas. He opens up so much of the floor for other guys and if we can hit big shots, we can be hard to beat in the playoffs.”

Howell for the rim rattling dunk this season. file photo

Junior Dane Files has really come on late for the Tigers. In the last 10 games, Files is averaging over 10 points and knocking down huge shots when needed. Newcomer Ty Jones has been a tremendous addition for the Tigers. Jones is a skilled guard who sees the floor well and plays great alongside Howell.

Dane Files’ mid range jump shot will be needed tonight. file photo

The Tigers have a deep bench, playing nine or so guys on any given night, which will also be pivotal, come playoff time. Success has been no stranger to the Tiger basketball program as of late. In each of the last four years, the Tigers have won over 20 games and went to the State Championship in the 2017-18 season.

The Tigers faced a rough patch early in the year, 2-4, but since then, are a remarkable 22-1 in their last 23 games. The run started when they won the Many Basketball Invitational, and they haven’t looked back. The Tigers won District 3-1A for the fourth straight year and will look to ride the win streak into the postseason.

“I feel like we saw just how good we could be, and we’ve found an identity and ran with it ever since,” Howell said. A win versus St. Martin’s will set up a showdown Friday night at home versus the Southern Lab Kittens of Baton Rouge.

Tony Arnold spoke for the team at a pep rally this morning. “We are nervous, but more excited. Unfortunately we’ll have to end another teams’ season to advance, but we have to do everything we can to succeed.”

Tony Arnold at the charity stripe. file photo

The team attributes their 18 game win streak to their “coaches and Jesus Christ.”

Arnold said they hope their relationships will stand the test of time after basketball season is over. “We’re not a team, we’re a family,” he said.

Coach Tom Collins said after the pep rally that their biggest obstacle is staying strong and sharp after a 10-day layoff. “We’re blessed that everyone is healthy and ready for a good start and we’re energized. I feel like our chances are good. We’re ready to just let the chips fly.”

Coach Collins instructs his charges at a game last year. This year they hope to make it to the finals. file photo

“The coaching staff would like to thank the fans and parents for all the support they have shown to the St. Mary’s boys basketball team. The energy and support from all the fans truly play a big part in our success,” Collins said.

The Lady Tigers take to the court in semi-finals action tomorrow night. Look for their story in the print edition.