All-Southwest Louisiana Basketball Big Schools: Ceaser, Hudler leave their marks

Published 3:03 pm Sunday, March 31, 2024

Iowa’s Dashawn Ceaser and South Beauregard’s Kenzie Hudler made their final high school seasons their best and led their respective teams to the state finals.

They are the American Press All-Southwest Louisiana Big Schools MVPs.

Ceaser, a 6-foot-3 guard, repeated as MVP as he continued to produce many highlight reel scoring plays, averaged 22.1 points and finished with 1,908 career points.

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“He put in a lot of work,” said Iowa head coach Robert Melanson, who retired after his 31st season. “From his freshman year, I think he played in eight ball games.

“His sophomore year, he came off the bench for us. Around district time, he just really started turning it on. I think it was the game against Westlake where he hit five or six 3-pointers, and from that point on it was like the rest of his career at Iowa changed. The work that he has put in the gym, and it has led to others getting in the gym with him.”

But his skills were not limited to pure scoring. The Blinn (Texas) College commitment averaged 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and led the Yellow Jackets in charges taken and steals. He made the all-tournament team in three of four tournaments this season and earned District 3-3A and Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association all-star game MVP.

“He probably led us in taking charges,” Melanson said. “He was one of our top ones in rebounding.

“He brought different things to the ballgame. His ball handling got better this year. At the college camps this summer that he went to, college coaches told him that he had to get better. That is one of the things that he worked on. We really played a tough schedule this year, and it seemed like the tougher the schedule got the better he got, especially in those big ballgames. He may not had the greatest games in the finals and semifinals, but they were all over him and that had a lot to do with it.”

Boys Coach of the Year

Melanson repeats as Coach of the Year after leading the Yellow Jackets to back-to-back state tournament appearances. Melanson’s Yellow Jackets went 31-5, losing 70-65 to Wossman in the nonselect Division II final.

Melanson finished his career with a 765-340 record and took three schools — Lacassine, Comeaux and Iowa — to the state tournament.

Girls MVP

Hudler went from one of four bigs rotating in last season to the Lady K’s main scoring threat as they switched to a more post-centric offense. She doubled her points per game from 10 to 20.

“I never doubted her role this year,” said Lady K’s head coach Susan Johnson. “She knew that she had to stay in tip-top shape because she was not going to leave the floor, and she was fine. She didn’t want to leave the floor.

“Every time she shoots I think that she is going to make it. She is just a pure scorer. We practiced every day feeding her the ball. We went to that high-low, so my other big (Emorie Fontenot) had a ton of assists feeding Kenzie the ball. It was hard to guard Kenzie because she could finish so well.”

In the nonselect Division III semifinals, Hudler had 17 points and 16 rebounds in a 60-39 win over Church Point. The Lady K’s lost to Wossman 63-22 in the final.

“She was tough enough,” Johnson said. “If she was tired, she did not show it. She was tougher this year. She was more determined. She knew she had to put the ball in the hole. She wanted the ball. She would actually call for the ball this year, positioned better and worked harder because she knew her team depended on her.”

Girls Coach of the Year

Johnson took the Lady K’s to the state final for the first time since their championship run in 2017 under Chris Greene.

The Lady K’s made an undefeated run through District 3-3A, had a 27-8 record and a 16-game win streak that ended in the final.