Ascension's best athletes of the 2017-18 sports year

Kyle Riviere
Jai Williams was the parish's top football player in 2017, earning All-State honors on both sides of the ball. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

With the completion of the 2017-18 athletic year, it’s time to look back on all the great achievements of the many talented prep athletes in Ascension Parish.

There were many fantastic performances throughout the year that fueled parish teams making long playoff runs and winning district and state titles.

Here are the Weekly Citizen’s picks for the parish’s top athletes in 10 prep sports:

Football - Jai Williams (Ascension Catholic)

The sophomore was one of the top running backs in the state, rushing for more than 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns. On defense, Williams was one of Ascension Catholic’s top linebackers. He made All-State in both capacities as he helped lead the Bulldogs to their first state title game since 1992. Other great players: Cade Nelson (St. Amant), Jimel London (East Ascension), Jaylin Williams (Donaldsonville)

Volleyball - Diamond Jones (East Ascension)

Diamond Jones was one of the driving forces behind East Ascension going 31-11 in 2017, and winning a share of the District 4 championship. Jones was named the district’s MVP as she put up 401 kills, 81 blocks and 80 aces in the Lady Spartans’ playoff run. Other great players: Baylee Rambin (St. Amant), Zoe Wooten (Dutchtown), Truli Joseph (East Ascension)

Boy’s Basketball - Jimel London (East Ascension)

The Spartan senior was a first-team all-district point guard and the Parish MVP this season as he helped lead his team to a 20-9 overall record and second-round playoff appearance. East Ascension was also District 5-5A Tournament runner-up. Other great players: K.J. Franklin (St. Amant), Nick Caldwell (Dutchtown), Everette Wilson (Donaldsonville)

Girl’s Basketball - Diniaa McZeal (East Ascension)

Diniaa McZeal helped lead the Lady Spartans to their first-ever state championship. In that run, she averaged 16 points per game and was named the District 5-5A MVP, as well as the Parish MVP. McZeal also earned All-State honors. Other great players: Jamilyn Robinson (Ascension Christian), Tristen Washington (East Ascension), Chelsea Cain (Dutchtown)

Boy’s Soccer - Angelo Fabricio (St. Amant)

The Brazilian exchange-student scored 39 goals and dished out 21 assists in 2018. His play helped the Gators win their third straight district title. They reached the state quarterfinals for a second straight season. Fabricio was the district’s Overall MVP and the All-State team’s Offensive MVP. Other great players: Zayne Zezulka (Dutchtown), Hector Rodriguez (St. Amant), Logan St. Pierre (Ascension Christian)

Girl’s Soccer - Adelaide Gaffney (St. Amant)

Junior Adelaide Gaffney scored 23 goals and dished out 15 assists in helping lead the Lady Gators to the state semifinals for the first time since 2004. For the second straight year, she was named the district’s Overall MVP. Gaffney was also named the All-Metro Offensive MVP. Other great players: Mya Guillory (St. Amant), Bailey Fournet (Dutchtown), Chloe Cashat (Ascension Christian)

Wrestling - Trent Mahoney (East Ascension)

Trent Mahoney won both city and state titles in the 132-pound weight class. He also racked up 83 victories—which set a single-season state record. The Spartans finished in seventh place at the state meet. Mahoney was a first-team All-Metro selection. Other great wrestlers: Jordan Campbell (East Ascension), Nakie Brown (St. Amant), Hunter Hawkins (St. Amant)

Baseball - Charlie Gianelloni (Ascension Catholic)

Charlie Gianelloni did a little bit of everything in Ascension Catholic’s run to their first state title since 1994. He was one of their top pitchers, one of their top hitters and one of their top fielders at third base. Gianelloni was a first-team all-district selection. Other great players: Jack Merrifield (Dutchtown), Blaise Foote (East Ascension), Zane Zeppuhar (St. Amant)

Softball - Taylor Tidwell (St. Amant)

Taylor Tidwell put up ridiculous numbers in her senior season. She hit a single-season school record 17 home runs. She hit close to .600, and she collected more than 50 RBIs as her team won another district title. Tidwell was named the District 5-5A MVP. Other great players: Alicia Canatella (Ascension Catholic), Alyssa Romano (St. Amant), Baylee Bourgeois (Dutchtown)

Track - Leah Scott (Dutchtown)

Leah Scott capped off her sensational high-school career by winning state titles in both the triple jump and the long jump in 2018. It brought her career state title total to eight. Scott’s performance helped Dutchtown finish seventh at the state meet. Other great performers: Regan West (St. Amant), Alec Snell (Dutchtown), Arianne Linton (Ascension Catholic)