This past season, boy's basketball took a huge step forward in the parish.
This past season, boy’s basketball took a huge step forward in the parish.
Most teams in Ascension have seen their share of struggles throughout the past few years, but things began to take a turn in 2017-18. Not only did all six parish hoops squads make the postseason, but five of those teams won their first-round playoff games.
As a result, many Ascension basketball players found their way onto all-district teams.
One of the biggest storylines of the season was the resurgence of the St. Amant basketball program.
The Gators had a terrific season that saw them win 23 games. One of those victories came against archrival East Ascension. This was the first time they beat the Spartans in three years.
The win helped St. Amant share the regular-season District 5-5A championship with Catholic.
From there, the Gators hosted a first-round playoff game. They came back from 15 down to beat Airline and collect their first postseason victory since 2009.
They were eventually eliminated by state champion Walker in the second round.
Head coach Travis Uzee was named the District 5-5A Co-Coach of the Year, along with Catholic’s Mark Cascio.
Forward Jerome Turner was one of three players named Co-Defensive MVP.
Joining him on the all-district first team was explosive junior guard K.J. Franklin.
A new first-team selection for the Gators was senior forward Justin Gibson. His play inside was instrumental in St. Amant’s great run this past season.
After scoring 18 in their win over East Ascension, Uzee said of Gibson, “Justin Gibson has been playing like that all district. He’s averaging a double-double, he plays the whole game and he busts his butt every play.”
As for the Spartans, senior guard Shedrick Smith joined Turner as a Co-Defensive MVP.
Sensational point guard Jimel London concluded his career by being a first-team all-district selection for a third straight season.
During the year, head coach Barry Whittington, Jr. praised London for his leadership and toughness, saying he only could remember him missing one game due to injury throughout his career.
A first-time starter that emerged for East Ascension this year was Hobert Grayson. He was the only Spartan underclassman to make first-team all-district.
East Ascension went 20-9 during the regular season and finished as runner-up in the District 5-5A tournament.
The Spartans were the No. 5 seed in the Class 5A playoffs. They beat Zachary in the first round, but they were upset by Southwood in round two.
Finally, Dutchtown placed two players on the All-District 5-5A first team.
The Griffins went 16-9 during the regular season and won their first playoff game since 2014.
Their 18-point victory over Lafayette sent them to the second round, where they were eliminated by defending champion and eventual state runner-up Landry-Walker.
Leading the charge for the Griffins for much of the season was the one-two punch of forward Nick Caldwell (Southeastern commit) and guard Gary Smith. Both players were first-team all-district selections.
In District 10-3A, four Donaldsonville players earned postseason honors.
The Tigers went 5-3 in league play during the regular season and pulled off a first-round road upset over Jena in the playoffs.
They were eliminated by eventual Class 3A semifinalist Sophie B. Wright in round two.
Donaldsonville’s 6-foot-7 forward Everette Wilson was a first-team all-district selection. He averaged 14 points per game.
During the season, head coach Lionel Gilbert said of Wilson, “Once he matures on the defensive end, he’s going to be a hell of a player. He’s getting better every day, and makes us a better basketball team when he’s playing the right way.”
Joining Wilson on the first team was guard Terrell Brown—who averaged 12 per game.
On the second team were forward Dwayne Johnson and guard Ladarius Jackson.