A lot expected out of hard working Lady Spartans

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s Alexis Ruth returns for her senior season after averaging 12.4 points per game last year to earn all-District 6-5A second-team honors.

East Ascension fell just shy of advancing to the Top 28 Tournament a season ago but despite the loss of an integral clog in their postseason run, the Lady Spartans’ goals haven’t changed.

The Lady Spartans finished the season with an overall record of 21-5 after falling to Walker 46-40 in overtime of the Class 5A quarterfinals following opening round victories over St. Joseph  and John Ehret. East Ascension split the District 6-5A championship with East St. John but won a playoff game to determine postseason seedings.

“This is not professional basketball,” East Ascension head coach Dennis Chandler said. “This is high school basketball and every four years you are going to lose ballplayers. No matter how good they are, their time will be up. That is just natural.”

Gone to graduation from East Ascension’s run are multiple year all-district selections Josie West and Kaneesha Grant along with starter Katona Blanche.

However, the Lady Spartans do return multiple all-district performer Alexis Ruth, who led the team with a 12.4 points per game, and honorable mention selection Symone Miller, who scored 10 points a game.

“I expect a lot out of all of them,” Chandler said. “I don’t expect a lot out of just one or two kids. Even the ones that don’t play, the expectations are the same.”

East Ascension’s roster is only eight deep, so nearly everyone fits into the rotation. Brionca Bougere, Jalen York and Kiona Lomas round out the starters, while Shannon Corbin and Alana Crawford are the first off the bench.

“We got eight kids and all eight are going to play. We don’t have any choice,” Chandler said. “If you look at a game, you will see most teams with a seven or eight man rotation and that is it. I would love to have a large number of kids but you find me one team that you know that is playing 15 kids. They are not. That is the nature of the game and I have a solid eight kids.

“We work hard for the lack of a better word. That is our basic strength. We can’t make a lot of mistakes. We have to play good basketball night in and night out and not quit.”

East Ascension opened the season at two-time defending Class 4A champion St. Michael before facing St. Joseph, Dominican and?Natchitoches Central in the Denham Springs Tournament.

After hosting Scotlandville, they will participate in the Zachary Tournament before traveling to Denham Springs, Scotlandville and Plaquemine. The Lady Spartans wrap up the pre-district slate hosting St. Joseph after traveling to White Castle and hosting L.W. Higgins.

“We tried to schedule the best teams we could,” Chandler said. “We are getting ready for the district and if we make the playoffs, we are going to run into some tough teams so we might as well play them early.

“We are going to be competitive. All that I can concentrate and worry about is East Ascension. That is the only team I coach. We just have to come and be ready to play. Through 27 years, the goal has been the same. It is to make it to the Sweet 16. That is the expectation and it doesn’t change. I don’t care who is on the team.”