New Orleans area teams have banner week in Lake Charles, many to remain title contenders

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Okay, the concept of crowning 12 champions in basketball when there are far fewer than 400 participating schools remains ridiculous.

That said, the LHSAA state basketball championships produced a windfall for New Orleans area teams, who won 33 percent of the championships (4-of-12).

Crescent City Christian was the overwhelming best story of the championships.

A school which recently dropped to Class B enrollment, the Pioneers have never been a threat to win any state championship in athletics.

Someone forgot to tell Shaun Dumas.

The St. Augustine product fielded a team did not start a senior and won the Division V state championship. Freshman Byron Joshua stole the show, scoring 24 points in a semifinal win over Grace Christian and he scored 18 points, all after halftime.

Opponents will now not look forward to seeing Josha, Terrence Smith, Cory Johnson, Devonta Harris, Kaleo Kaohu, Keane Smith and Jonathan Vaughan back next season. Only Dominic Dandridge graduates.

De La Salle captured its first state championship since 1986 with an awesome performance in an 81-69 win over three-time defending state champion University Lab.

Ahmad Taylor shot the lights out for the Cavaliers while Jalen Henry, Rodney Munson and Troy Nisby came up huge as well. While Taylor, Nisby and Deshawn Wright graduate, Henry, Munson and John Kelly return, along with others who will make the Cavaliers quite good again next season.

If Country Day is not the best coached team in the state, it does not take long to call the roll.

Mike McGuire led the Cajuns to their sixth state championship in school history, the fourth under McGuire, with a thrashing of top-seed Dunham.

While Romin Williams, the heart and soul of the team graduates, along with Avery Jenkins, Blake Amann, Brantley Mock and Christian Kerut, Justin Ibieta, Clinton Nicholas, Christian Becnel and Shawn Royal return to comprise what should be a good squad next season. Never count McGuire out.

What a year it has been for Landry-Walker!

The Charging Buccaneers are state champions in both football and basketball in the highest classification in the state in the same calendar year.

Brian Gibson did perhaps his best coaching job, winning state championship with a team that had 13 losses.

Of course, Landry-Walker played a brutal schedule and got better while its football players found their health and basketball legs.

Keep in mind that basketball standout Keytaon Thompson was already enrolled at Mississippi State on a basketball scholarship.

Devonta Jason and UNO signee Lamont Berzat, in particular, got into basketball shape and the Bucs improved as the season got deeper. Malik Legania was outstanding while Dy’wan Griffin and Semaj Mathhews were solid.

Gibson will have Griffin, Sha’don Green, Jason, Matthews, Breshawn Delpit and Tory Cargo back next season as they continue to play in the best league in the state in 8-5A.

Kudos to Bonnabel as well.

Veteran coach Glenn Dyer came within one win of a first-ever state championship in school history.

While Joseph Thompson departs for South Alabama, T.J. Collins, a brilliant guard, returns next season.

It was a great season for Chalmette and veteran coach Butch Stockton, who had a transcendent player in seven-foot center Mitchell Robinson.

He also loses outstanding guards in Glenshawn Amos and Carlton Campbell as well.

Chris Biehl did a great job with his Brother Martin Crusaders squad. Like Gibson, he had to wait on football players to get healthy and get their basketball legs under them.

When they did, they won 19 of their last 22 games and nearly knocked off perhaps the best team in any class in perennial power Scotlandville, falling one point short.

While Tre Swilling, Bruce Jordan-Swilling, Vejon Wallis and Jeremy Singleton will be tough to replace, all were football players. Brother Martin has very good young basketball players returning in Davonn Moore, T.J. Small, Tyler Epps, Javier Perez and Trey Chatters and should be solid next year.

As for Riverside, it was strange not seeing Timmy Byrd’s team in the championship game but Country Day was simply too good. Riverside was the second best team, better than Dunham.

Look for the Rebels to return to the championship game next season as they had just one senior on the team. Jared Butler may be the best player in the class next year while Isaiah Bigham, Jalen Banks, Jeremiah Bigham, Garnald Robertson, Kash Foley Leboe Bridges and Jordan Loving are all back.

As the for overall experience in Lake Charles, things went off without a hitch. Burton Coliseum remains a solid facility and the people did an excellent job. Whether the tournament remains there remains to be seen. Alexandria will jump in with a bid at a renovated Rapides Coliseum and Lafayette could emerge as a candidate again as well.

Surely, there were too many teams and too many games, much like in Hammond with the girls, but it is what it is. Clearly, there were teams making the “Final Four” that were not “Final Four” teams in a united association.

My final thought pertains to baseball and softball in Sulphur.

While the facilities are outstanding and the people there do a great job, the nightmare of 12 championships each for an outdoor sport is scary. Can you imagine what will occur if and when the rains come? Can you say two weeks?

Perhaps it will not be that long but you get the picture as we continue to adjust to the new normal in Louisiana High School school sports, abnormal to me and abhorrent to many participants.

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