Burton Coliseum stars in state tournament

By By Rhett Manuel / American Press

Last week seven state champions were crowned, over 25,000 fans came through the turnstiles and countless memories were made

in Louisiana High School Athletic Association Top 28 action at Burton Coliseum.

It’s baseball and softball season around Louisiana now but for a minute Lake Charles was the epicenter of the state’s basketball

action.

Sure, March Madness is about to kick into full-swing but “Marsh Madness” wasn’t so bad in its own right.

Over the past two weeks, Southwest Louisiana was well-represented in the action. Thirteen local programs — 10 girls and three

boys — took the floor and brought home four trophies, two state champions and two runners-up.

Some of those were the usual suspects. Fairview and Lacassine met in their third-straight girls Class B. It happened the same

way it has in those past three years with Fairview winning its eighth-straight Class B title and ninth in 10 seasons. For

Lacassine, it meant its third-consecutive Class B runner-up trophy.

For Hackberry’s girls team, a group very familiar with winning championships in softball and track helped to lift the school’s

first state title in a decade.

The Fairview boys program got a

breakthrough its been waiting for this year. After six previous trips to

the Top 28, the Panthers

finally won in the semifinals and earned the right to play for the

Class B state title. While it fell short in that quest,

losing 61-51 to Midland, the school’s first-ever trophy in boys

basketball was no small accomplishment.

“I’m just so proud of my kids,” Fairview head coach Ron Starks said. “The community is just so happy and so supportive. It’s

a thrill to get that far. We would’ve liked to close the deal but they have nothing to be ashamed of at all. “

The boys Top 28 was a showcase for an emerging group of underclassmen. Among the 11 players named to the All-Tournament team

only two, Richwood’s Reginal “Monsta” Johnson and Landry-Walker’s Tyree Griffin, were seniors.

Among the remaining nine players five were sophomores, led by the tournament MVP Riverside’s Malik Crowfield.

Another member of that sophomore class is Fairview’s Brennan Maddox, who was left off the All-Tournament team despite averaging

a double-double during the Top 28.

“Brennan has done a tremendous job this year,” Starks said. “I’ve been very pleased with all the kids. We’ve just got to keep

on improving and not be satisfied with just getting (to the Top 28).”

For Starks, the recipe for that improvement is simple.

“We’ve got to get stronger,” he said. “We’ve got to get better defensively and keep shooting the ball well.”