Parish basketball teams set for 2017-18 season

Kyle Riviere
Diniaa McZeal and East Ascension will be looking to take home another district title this season. Photo by Tammy Gaudin.

As the postseason begins for high-school football, the basketball season now approaches in the parish.

Teams are looking to continue the success of last year, when seven Ascension programs reached the second round of the playoffs.

East Ascension was the class of the parish in high-school basketball last season as the boys headed into the postseason as the top seed in Class 5A, and the girls earned the No. 2 seed.

Again, both teams look to be strong in 2017-18.

The boys will have to replace their leading scorer of the past two seasons, Le’Aaron Cain. Cain is the two-time reigning Parish MVP.

Along with Cain, the Spartans also lose big man Justin Harris and deadly outside shooter Cole Hatcher.

These players helped East Ascension win a district title and reach the second round of the playoffs last season.

Though, they will return three accomplished seniors in point guard Jimel London, center Cameron Wire and shooting guard Shedrick Smith.

London has been East Ascension’s starting point guard since he was a freshman.

Head coach Barry Whittington, Jr. also expects sophomore guards Hobert Grayson and Cameron Dunbar to be key contributors.

“I think we are going to be a very good defensive team. We have some youth, but the guys are buying in to what we want to do on the defensive end of the floor,” Whittington said.

Last season, the Lady Spartans ended the regular season on a 22-game winning streak and brought home a district championship.

They were the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, but they were upset in the second round.

East Ascension will lose all-district forward Sharan Turner, but they’ll return a plethora of stars.

This includes district and Parish MVP Alynzia Morris, Parish Defensive MVP Tristian Washington, Diniaa McZeal and Kendall Alvarez.

The Dutchtown boys and girls should be worthy challengers to East Ascension for district superiority in 2017-18.

The Dutchtown boys return almost all of the key components from last year’s squad. This was a team that experienced a tremendous resurgence as they won 17 games and reached the playoffs for the first time in three years.

They bring back a first-team all-district forward in Nic Caldwell, as well as an All-Parish shooting guard in Gary Smith and a two-year starter at point guard in Jordan Jackson.

Big Briant Parker should be a force for them in the paint.

The girls will also return most of their best players from a team that won 21 games last season and reached the second round of the playoffs.

Point guard Kyra Harleaux and forward Tyler Smith have both graduated, but all-district forwards Chelsea Cain and Reagan Crawford both return, along with Brittany Lewis.

The St. Amant boys will have a lot to replace after losing a two-time all-district player down low in Kameron Kelson, along with guards Travis Cole and Terique Daley.

Also, head coach Travis Uzee was expecting sophomore forward Destin Barker to be a key contributor this season, but he was injured in the Gators’ first practice.

Fortunately for St. Amant, they return explosive junior guard K.J. Franklin, along with two other starters in Jimmie Pittman and Jahnoi Daley.

Coach Uzee is also looking for big things from Jerome Turner and Richard Donaldson.

“We have six seniors on the team that are not only impact players on the court, but also are impact kids on this campus in many areas,” Uzee said. “Their leadership and character will help this team. I am very proud of their accomplishments on and off the court.”

The St. Amant girls are looking to make it back to the playoffs, after missing out last season.

They will return all five starters—including all-district standout Megan Melancon. Asya Price and Mackenzie Brooks should also do big things.

“Last season, we took our lumps because of youth and inexperience, but this season, we hope to excel and compete at the highest level,” head coach Kristy Englade said.

The Ascension Christian girls made school history last season as they won their first playoff game and reached the state quarterfinals.

That kind of success is within reach again this year as they return their two leading scorers in Jamilyn Robinson and Alona Washington. Both players were all-district and All-Parish performers last season.

The Lady Lions also return both Rhesa and Kylie Jones.