Ferriday at Sterlington (VG, VB), Friday, 6 p.m.

With all five starters graduating from last year's district championship team, Sterlington coach Kevin Caballero has had Friday, Jan. 10 circled on his calendar from Day 1.

Viewing the first 18 games as dress rehearsals, Caballero's priority has been to have his team prepared for the conference race.

Friday night marks the start of the District 2-2A season as the Panthers (13-5) entertain the Ferriday Trojans. Game time is 6 p.m. for the girls, with the boys contest to follow.

Ferriday (4-11) is off to its customary slow start, though Caballero is placing no stock in the Trojans' record.

“They always have a lot of football guys, but, by this time, coach (Kirfred) Watson has them going,” Caballero said.

With the football players getting into basketball shape, the Trojans have made drastic strides since the start of the season. After losing its second game of the season to Vidalia 78-49, Ferriday dropped the second meeting with its Concordia Parish rival 57-56.

Caballero and assistant coach Antonio Sterling scouted the Trojans in the Sicily Island Tournament over the holidays, but came back with little information.

“They had a lot of people sick and dressed out only six kids,” Caballero said. “If they have their whole team, it's going to be tough. They have more height than us and they're equally athletic.”

Regardless of whether or not Ferriday is at full strength, the Panthers need to defend their home court.

“You have to win your home games,” said Caballero, whose team is on the road for two next week with stops at Oak Grove on Tuesday and Jonesboro-Hodge on Friday, Jan. 17.