Parish basketball players make All-District 5-5A

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Last season, all three of Ascension Parish’s District 5-5A basketball powers reached the playoffs, two won postseason games and one squad reached the state quarterfinals.

The same high level of success could not be duplicated in 2020, but there was still some impressive basketball being played in the parish. As a result, five players from the area were named first-team selections on the All-District 5-5A team.

Unfortunately for Dutchtown, they had no players make the first team. The Griffins saw their share of struggles as they tried to replace their two leading scorers from the past three seasons, Nick Caldwell and Gary Smith.

Dutchtown went just 7-20 and lost their last seven games. This was just a year removed from when they made a run to the state quarterfinals.

This season, the best team in the parish was East Ascension. The Spartans had three players make the all-district first team.

East Ascension played their first full season under head coach Tyler Turner in 2020.

Turner was a long-time assistant coach for the Spartans, but in the middle of last season, head coach Barry Whittington, Jr. resigned in order to become the new Assistant Principal at Dutchtown High School.

Turner took over as the Spartans’ interim head coach, and the team played well under his guidance. They reached the second round of the playoffs.

At the end of the season, the school promoted Turner to the full-time head coach. Turner is an East Ascension alum.

This season, the Spartans went 22-8 during the regular season. This included a perfect 4-0 record against parish rivals Dutchtown and St. Amant.

East Ascension was the District 5-5A runner-up to Catholic of Baton Rouge.

This impressive resume earned the Spartans the No. 13 seed in the Class 5A playoffs. In the opening round, they hosted No. 20 Parkway.

East Ascension used a 17-4 third-quarter rally to run away with a 66-51 victory. That marked the fifth straight season in which they won at least one playoff game.

In the second round, the Spartans had to go on the road to face fourth-seeded Bonnabel. East Ascension lost a tight one, 58-53. Bonnabel went on to lose to Alexandria in the 5A state title game by one point.

Highlighting the All-District 5-5A team for East Ascension was senior guard Hobert Grayson. In addition to being named to the first team, Grayson was also named the district’s Co-Defensive MVP, along with Catholic’s Caleb Warner.

Joining Grayson on the first team were two other Spartan selections. They were junior guard Camryn Carter and senior forward Javon Carter.

The St. Amant Gators came into 2020 without KJ Franklin, a player that had been a four-time all-district performer for them.

Early on, they had their share of growing pains. They started the year in a 1-3 hole, but they eventually got it going in a big way.

St. Amant surged to a 21-10 record during the regular season. This was good enough to make them the No. 19 seed for the Class 5A playoffs.

In the opening round, they had to go on the road to face No. 14 West Monroe. The Gators’ season ended there.

For the All-District 5-5A squad, it was all about the big men for St. Amant.

The Gators had two senior forwards make the first team. They were Destin Barker and Tyrone Johnson.

The District 5-5A MVP was Catholic’s Kentrell Garnett.