St. Amant wants district title and more in 2021-22

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
St. Amant returns senior guard Amiyah Barrow, a first-team all-district selection from last season.

In 2020-21, the St. Amant Lady Gators had a breakout season that culminated in a District 5-5A title and a playoff victory.

But this year, the Lady Gators have their sights set even higher. They’re looking to compete for a state championship.

“I’m expecting all players to take it up a notch this season. They were able to get a taste of playoff-caliber basketball last year, and I believe they are ready to make a deeper run,” head coach Bianca Harvey said.

Harvey took over at St. Amant last year after the departure of longtime head coach Kristy Englade. 

The Lady Gators had a very successful season, finishing with a 21-10 record and claiming the program’s first district title since 2014. St. Amant also won its first playoff game in eight years.

The team’s postseason run ended in the second round with a close loss on the road against third-seeded Walker.

The expectations have risen for 2021-22 as St. Amant returns four of its five starters from last year’s district championship squad.

Leading the charge will be junior forward Deniya Thornton, who was last year’s District 5-5A MVP and the Ascension Parish MVP.

The Lady Gators also return guards Amiyah Barrow and Caterina Byars. Both players were first-team all-district last season.

Harvey said that Byars is a “weapon from behind the arc.”

Harvey is also excited about senior forward Rylie Boudreaux, who hasn’t played since her freshman season due to injuries.

“She is a rebounding machine and will definitely give us the spark we need on the defensive end,” Harvey said.

Although, the Lady Gators will be without first-team all-district point guard Amani Gray, who Harvey called their “floor general.”

“She was always able to rally the troops together when we were down and out, while also keeping us going when we were on a run. I’m excited to see who will step up into that role this year,” Harvey said.

With the graduation of Gray, the Lady Gators will need a new point guard to step up, and they’re hoping that will be junior Halle Haydel, who was an honorable-mention all-district selection last season.

“Halle is a little ball of fire and the quickest person I have seen with a basketball, by far,” Harvey said. “She’s developed the confidence and court awareness she needs in order to make us a better team. Halle is definitely a player to watch this year, as she is capable of dropping dimes and nailing the three-ball from deep.”

But Harvey isn’t just excited about her starting five in 2021-22. She said that she also expects plenty of production from her bench.

“Our team will be strong in bench depth this year, constantly giving us fresh legs to get up and down the floor, which is what we want to do,” Harvey said. “We would like to score in transition as often as we can and get after it on the defensive end.”

Last year was special for St. Amant, but a trip to the second round of the playoffs won’t be enough this season.

“Last year was an extremely exciting year for us, winning district and making it to the second round of the playoffs,” Harvey said. “This year, we’re not satisfied, and we’re ready for more.”