The 2018-19 season saw the Ascension Catholic boy's basketball program make great strides. They improved their regular-season record from 8-20 the previous year to 16-10.

Whether it's football, baseball, softball, track or volleyball, Ascension Catholic High athletics has a rich tradition of excellence. But basketball is one sport that has found success quite elusive over the years.

The Bulldogs are hoping to change that this season.

The 2018-19 season saw the Ascension Catholic boy's basketball program make great strides. They improved their regular-season record from 8-20 the previous year to 16-10.

How the Bulldogs finished was the most impressive aspect of the season. They began the year in a 2-4 hole, but then went 14-6 in their final 20 games to earn the No. 8 seeding in the Division-IV playoffs.

Ascension Catholic hosted a second-round game, a game in which they beat St. Martin's Episcopal to reach the state quarterfinals.

There, the Bulldogs were beaten by top-seeded Lafayette Christian. Lafayette Christian went on to win the Division-IV state title.

Ascension Catholic is hoping they can build on last season's success now in 2019-20, as they return four starters from that state quarterfinal squad.

The Bulldogs lost point guard Jamil Truxillo to graduation. Truxillo was a two-year starter for Ascension Catholic and one of their most prolific scorers.

Ascension Catholic will also lose their reliable sixth man Jamar Barber.

But returning for the Bulldogs will be brothers DeMarco and Demontray Harry. DeMarco is a sophomore guard, and Demontray is a senior that will take over for Truxillo at point guard.

Senior Eric Simon, Jr. returns at forward.

Also, sophomore big man J'Mond Tapp returns. Tapp finally gave the Bulldogs some much-needed size down low last season, and he played extremely well as a freshman.

"We are expecting a big year from J'Mond Tapp as an inside presence for us," Ascension Catholic head coach Kylon Green said.

Another player to keep an eye on will be sophomore guard Troy Cole. Cole will be a first-year starter, but he has been a role player since the eighth grade. Coach Green said of Cole, "We really expect him to make a significant jump this year."

Under Green, the Bulldogs have thrived in an up-tempo style of play, and there will be no exception this season.

"The strength of our team will be our ability to get up and down the floor, and our ability to create turnovers," Green said. "We have a great opportunity to keep building and heading in a positive direction. Last year, we had a quarterfinal appearance. The goal is to surpass that accomplishment."

Ascension Catholic is off to a great start. The Bulldogs began their season last week with three double-digit victories.

They tipped things off with an emphatic 98-55 win over Collegiate Baton Rouge from Class 3A. The next night, they crushed Vermillion Catholic, 78-43. Vermillion Catholic was also a state quarterfinal team from last year.

To finish off the stellar opening week, the Bulldogs went on the road and defeated Capitol, 102-92, in a wild shootout. Capitol reached the second round of the Class 2A playoffs last season.

Now sitting at 3-0, Ascension Catholic will compete in two tournaments over the next couple of weeks.

This week, they'll play in tournament action at Ascension Christian. Next week, they'll play in a tournament at Vermillion Catholic.