Posted On: 07/5/18 5:56 PM
Now that the calendar has turned to the month of July, players have moved into the second half of the grassroots season. Even though travel teams are the focus now, we want to look back at the high school teams that took the month of June by storm. When it comes to top teams in north Louisiana, these five programs showed, during multiple camps, why they were the best throughout the past month.
5. Natchitoches Central – Micah Coleman’s Chiefs played in the team camps at Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State along with some mid-week tilts in the Bossier Summer League and at home. Losing three games along the way, Natchitoches Central played their traditional, hard-nosed defense. They have a bevvy of interchangeable players on defense and put pressure on the ball wherever it is. On offense, Calvin “C.J.” Carpenter leads the team. He can push the ball, make the outside shot, or dish for an assist. NCHS is wing heavy but they can jump. If the opposing team does not block out, they are crashing the glass and getting the rebound. Their lack of size might be an issue against some teams. However, they are definitely a tough test for any team that faces them. It will not surprise me if they end up at Marsh Madness at season’s end.
4. Ouachita High School – The Lions are another 2-5A team who made Marsh Madness last season. During June, they picked up where they left off in March. At the Neville, Louisiana Tech, and Northwestern State team camps, they continued playing their suffocating style of man-to-man defense. Their defense routinely caused turnovers and run outs. With R.J. Hill leading the defensive pressure, I am hard-pressed to find a team who played any better than the Lions on the defensive end. He scored often in turnover sequences which helped Ouachita to big leads against some of their opponents. On offense, senior-to-be Paul King ran the show. Whether it was from downtown with his shot-making or assisting on post ups by Myron Washington, King outperformed point guards on every team they faced. With their defensive intensity and offensive shot-making, look for Coach Madison’s Lions to be a strong force during the high school season.
3. Peabody Magnet High – The Warhorses might have lost their anchor in big man Dwight Simon. However, that did not stop them from having a big time month in June. Peabody returns two of the best players in the state in Kyron Gibson and Darius Smith. These two did not disappoint during the month leading their team to wins versus Madison Prep, Westgate, and Airline to name a few. Gibson continuously probed the lane for shots or to collapse the defense. Smith worked on his long range jumper and shot lights out for the majority of the month. Adding to their play was the emergence of Marcus Jones. This kid does whatever the coaching staff asks of him. Whether its defending positions one through three, rebounding, or facilitating the offense, Jones is more than capable in doing it. These three also set the defensive intensity for the team as well. If they get big man Jamal Hayward to compete at a high level as well, Peabody may be the best team in class 3A this coming season.
2. Bossier High – Teams do not usually win their district and come back substantially better. Well, the Bossier Bearkats are that team. Their second round flame out in the 4A playoffs seemed to have ignited something within the team and they have let everyone they played this summer feel it. During the Bossier Summer League and team camps at Madison Prep and Wossman, Bossier has played a style that teams have not been able to match defensively. Led by Kalaas Roots, Jacoby Decker, and Dante Bell, Bossier beat most teams to the tune of double digits. With the increased confidence and production of these three, Coach Bohanon added sharpshooter Cody Dean and wing Xavien Beasley to the mix. With the added offensive punch, Bossier will be back at the top of the 4A rankings once the season begins.
1. Rayville High – The 2A state champions have been the best team in north Louisiana for the past twelve months. They have not lost a game since the beginning of the 2017-18 season and they carried it over to this summer. Rayville played in practically every team camp this summer and shined in every one of them. Led by the state’s top player in 2019, Mylik Wilson, Rayville routinely beat the opposition by 20 plus points. Mylik assisted, scored, and rebounded the ball well during every stop of their team camp tour. If he was not scoring, his cousin Jamichael (Wilson) was lighting up other teams from outside of the three point line or by streaking down the court for layups. Twin brother Ja’markus (Wilson) might have been the best player of the three in June. Outlet passes, post scoring, and his outside touch killed teams again and again. With their pace of play and their ability to play at a high level will make the Hornets tough to beat once again. If June is any indication, class 2A needs to prepare for a repeat champion.
Other teams from north Louisiana performed well during June also. Teams such as Calvary Baptist, Tensas, Woodlawn (Shreveport), and Southwood performed admirably at the various team camps they attended. With that said, the five I listed were the best of an improving bunch of north Louisiana teams. If more teams step up to the level of these five, they will make the high school season in Louisiana one to remember.