Parish basketball teams all set for 2021-22

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
East Ascension returns first-team all-district point guard Keith Thomas.

The high-school basketball season is now upon us, and the three parish boy’s basketball teams of District 5-5A are hoping to take a step forward from what they accomplished last year.

The parish 5A squad that had the most success last season was St. Amant.

The Gators went 20-5 during the regular season and earned the No. 16 seed for the playoffs. This allowed them to host a first-round game. It was the first time St. Amant played a postseason game in the Gold Dome since 2009.

The Gators won that matchup, cruising past No. 17 Southside, 68-52. It was the program’s first playoff victory in three years.

In the second round, St. Amant went on to lose a competitive contest against top seed and eventual state runner-up Natchitoches Central.

The Gators’ 77.7 winning percentage in 2020-21 was the highest in school history.

St. Amant should be strong again this season. The Gators will return most of their starting lineup from last year.

Although, the team did lose a key piece with the graduation of forward Jakobe Singleton. Singleton was a first-team all-district player and the Ascension Parish MVP.

But fortunately for the Gators, they will return first-team all-district junior guard Letavian Crockett.

Other players St. Amant will return are guard Colby Ester and forwards Trace Forbes and Jah’leel Ester.

East Ascension also won a playoff game last season.

The Spartans had to replace its entire starting lineup in 2020-21, and they struggled at times during the regular season. Playing a very challenging schedule, East Ascension went just 10-11.

But due to the strength of that schedule, the Spartans earned the No. 13 seed for the playoffs. They hosted a first-round game and rolled over district rival Woodlawn, 58-44.

It was the fifth straight season in which the Spartans won at least one playoff game.

However, East Ascension’s postseason journey ended in the second round as the Spartans were defeated by fourth-seeded Hahnville.

From that playoff squad, the Spartans will return three starters. One of those players will be point guard Keith Thomas, who was both a first-team all-district and All-Parish selection.

The Spartans will also return forward Troy Dunn and guard N’Derius Walker. Both players were All-Parish last season.

Another returning player that was a key contributor in 2020-21 is sophomore small forward Tilicuis Irvin.

Head coach Tyler Turner said he is also expecting freshman Labron Napoleon to have a breakout season.

“The players are enjoying each other,” Turner said. “Some of them will be put into new roles, so it will take an adjustment period, but I think as the season progresses, we will be all right. With them enjoying playing with each other, that will assist with the implementation of the defense and offense.”

One team that is hoping to make a return to the playoffs this year is Dutchtown. The Griffins have not reached the postseason since 2019.

It was a very challenging year for Dutchtown in 2020-21. The team had 11 of its game canceled due to COVID-19.

In the 21 regular-season contests the Griffins played, they were 10-11.

But Dutchtown will return many of its best players this upcoming season. That will include two first-team all-district guards in Stephen Augillard and Robert Youngblood.

Other players that will be back for the Griffins will be guard Brian Norris and forward Dustin Graves.