Posted On: 03/16/18 2:37 PM
The 2017-18 basketball season in Louisiana ended with a classic matchup between No. 3 Landry-Walker and No. 4 Walker. The higher seeded Chargin’ Bucs had an 8-point lead with under 1:30 to go but a flurry of turnovers allowed Walker to knot the score at 53 going into overtime before pulling out a 62-57 victory at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles this past Saturday (Mar. 10).
Walker dominated its semifinal matchup taking down a quality Natchitoches Central team, 89-63, and Landry-Walker slipped past Ouachita Parish, 60-57. Here’s a look at the top players from the tournament, affectionately dubbed “Marsh Madness,” including all four teams that appeared in the semifinals of Class 5A, and you can watch the highlights or the full game below.
Brian Thomas — 2021 6’4” G
Thomas was the breakout player of the tournament earning Most Outstanding Player of the Class 5A championship game. He finished the night with 20 points going 8-of-11 from the stripe including two free throws to tie the game at 52 and another that tied it at 53 with 24.6 left in regulation. The freshman also scored 15 in the semifinals against Natchitoches Central and was a combined 12-of-24 from the field with eight rebounds in each game.
Thomas is an explosive player who can finish above the rim in transition and he does his best work attacking the rim. He attempted 16 free throws in two games and didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer, but there’s plenty of time for his perimeter game to catch up to the rest of his skill set.
Jalen Cook — 2020 6’0” PG
Cook had a tough time getting his jump shot to fall but he still had a big impact with his elite ball handling and finishing abilities. He made some big plays down the stretch in the title game against Landry-Walker including a steal that led to free throws in the final minute, as well as a floater after losing his defender with a spin move for a 57-54 lead with 1:07 to go in overtime.
Cook scored 16 points in both the semifinals and championship games on a combined 11-of-37 shooting and most of his struggles came from beyond the arc where he was 1-of-11. Part of that was likely due to the depth perception in a larger arena as Cook is a much better shooter than the numbers would indicate and the attention he demands on the court innately opens the floor for his teammates. He’s a big-time athlete with Division I offers in both basketball and football.
Jalen Perkins — 2018 6’6” W/F
Perkins’ game has grown leaps and bounds over the last few seasons and he’s now a bonafide threat from the perimeter as well as on the inside. He has a soft touch both as a shooter and around the rim, and attacked well off the dribble to get to his spots for pull-up jumpers or hook shots close to the basket.
Perkins also has range out to the 3-point line and was 3-for-4 in Walker’s dominant semifinal win over a good Natchitoches Central team. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting in that contest but had a tougher time adjusting to the length of Landry-Walker in the title game going 5-of-14. The swingman still made his presence felt with a game-high 12 rebounds, plus three blocks in the championship and had a huge putback dunk that gave Walker the lead for good in overtime, 55-54, with 2:54 left in overtime.
Perkins says he’s in contact with a couple of Division I schools but most of his interest is coming from the JUCO level.
Darius Hampton — 2018 5’10” PG
Hampton played a key role for Walker as a defensive stopper and heady ball-handler. He had just three turnovers in two games and was an ultra efficient 9-of-10 from the field in the semifinals against Natchitoches Central scoring 21 points. Virtually all of Hampton’s points came in transition or in the paint, which speaks to his speed and quickness both in the open floor and getting by his man in halfcourt sets. He also scored 12 points with five rebounds in the title game and was the unsung hero for the Wildcats with Thomas, Cook and Perkins taking most of the headlines.
Semaj Matthews — 2018 6’8” F
Matthews was likely Landry-Walker’s most consistent player on both ends of the floor throughout the year and the same was true during Marsh Madness. His impact was felt most on the defensive end as a rim protector who blocks shots at a high rate, but also knows how to contest without fouling. He swatted everything in sight in the title game recording six blocks and also led the team in rebounding with 11 while scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Matthews is generating interest from multiple Division II to JUCO programs and was offered by Albany State in February.
Dywan Griffin — 2019 6’1” PG
Griffin affects all facets of the game from scoring to rebounding, playmaking and defending. He competes at a high level on both ends of the floor and nearly recorded a triple-double in the state title game scoring 10 points with 9 assists and 8 rebounds. He has a great feel for running a team and directing traffic and was the Most Outstanding Player in last year’s championship game as a sophomore scoring 24 points.
Tory Cargo — 2019 6’3” G
Cargo made his name last summer during AAU basketball with the Louisiana Nightrydas and he really got going during the second half of the season after spending the fall on the football team. He’s a long-range specialist that never lacks confidence beyond the arc and he was 2-for-3 in the semis and 3-for-9 in the finals scoring 10 and a team-high 13 points.
His athleticism, toughness and length also showed up on the boards with five and eight rebounds and he did a solid job as a playmaker as well with three and four assists. Cargo will be an interesting player to watch over the summer and going into next year as he has a chance to start at quarterback next year for the Chargin’ Bucs but could also be a key piece for LW’s basketball team if he stays put on the hardwood.
Jamond Vincent — 2021 6’2” G
Vincent is going to be a mid-major prospect at minimum when all is said and done. He has off-the-charts athleticism with great size for his age and will overpower opposing guards, much in the mold of Dunham’s Jordan Wright. Vincent gave the Chargin’ Bucs a huge shot in the arm in the championship game scoring 10 points including six straight off the bench in the second quarter, the last two of which was a reverse alley-oop on the break.
He also had three huge blocks and earned a ton of minutes in the title game with his play. Vincent did have his freshman moment in the midst of Landry-Walker’s collapse with an easy pass slipping through his hands but that will only serve as a source of motivation in the years to come.
Brian White — 2018 5’9” PG (Northwestern State Signee)
White left it all on the court in the semis against Walker after wrapping up an incredible career with the Chiefs. Coach Micah Coleman raved about his dedication and winning mentality during the post-game press conference and White has a ton of game to go alongside his high character.
He scored seemingly at will on all three levels of the defense using his superior speed and ball handling ability to get in the lane or take the best available shot from the perimeter. White finished with a game-high 27 points on an efficient 9-of-18 shooting including 5-of-9 from three and 4-of-5 from the stripe. He’ll be a valuable asset for Northwestern over the next four seasons in the Southland Conference.
Calvin Carpenter Jr. — 2019 6’1” G
Carpenter Jr. is a fast-paced guard that really thrives in transition and getting to the line. He was the perfect compliment to White as their speed overpowered teams for much of the season, but that style of play was exactly what the Wildcats did best. Carpenter was the Chiefs’ second-leading scorer with 15 points and most of those came before he injured his ankle in the second quarter.
Willie Lapoole — 2018 6’7” W/F
Lapoole is a long wing with good athleticism and skill. He didn’t have his best game against the length of Landry-Walker going 4-of-12 from the field with 11 points but did have seven rebounds with two blocks. He finished through contact on a couple of occasions showing good strength and dexterity in the paint and didn’t make any of his 3-point attempts, but had a nice stroke that would suggest he’s better than 0-for-3 from distance.
Lapoole and Perkins have a lot of similarities to their games with Lapoole being a bit more perimeter oriented. D2 and JUCO squads would be wise to give Lapoole a look and both he and Perkins could be solid contributors on Division I teams with a year or two of development.
Paul King — 2019 5’8” PG
King set the tone for Ouachita at the point of attack on both ends of the court. His decision-making and efficiency were impressive as he scored a game-high 20 points on 5-of-11 shooting including 2-of-5 from three while going 8-of-8 at the free throw line. He also had a game-high eight rebounds while committing just three turnovers in 32 minutes and Landry-Walker had difficulties keeping him out of the lane for much of the game.