Three decades of near misses and heartbreak came to an end for Washington-Marion in 2017, as the Charging Indians closed the season on a 15-game winning streak to claim its second state championship and first since 1987.
The title was the only one this decade by an area large school, and the dominance the Charging Indians demonstrated all season earns them the top spot on the American Press list of top boys basketball teams of the decade.
The Class 4A championship win over Ellender in Burton Coliseum eased the pain of a near miss in 2016, when the Charging Indians lost by three points to Bossier in the championship game at Burton Coliseum.
W-M finished the 2017 season with a 32-6 record. High-flying forward Christian Edwards and scoring guard De'Vantre Vitor scored 14 points per game each to lead the Charging Indians, which featured a deep rotation that included guard Cody Stansberry (9 ppg), forward Damarcus Vital (10 ppg) and forward Michael Thomas (8.4 ppg), whose production surged late in the season, capped with a championship game performance in which he scored 13 points and had five rebounds, three blocked shots and three rebounds. Stansberry was named the game's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 18 points. Edwards finished his career with 13 points and 11 rebounds and was later named first-team all-state. W-M head coach Albert Hartwell was named Coach of the Year.
Rounding out the decade's best:
2 Hamilton Christian (2018-19) — The Warriors reached the championship game before losing a nail-biter to Lafayette Christian Academy in the final.
Led by junior guards Michael Thomas and Adrian Brown, the Warriors went 27-8, earning early season wins over larger schools such as Sam Houston, Richwood, Ruston, West Monroe, Cecilia and St. Martinville before rolling through District 4-1A play, winning all 14 games by double-digit margins.
In the playoffs, the Warriors routed St. Frederick and Vermillion Catholic to earn a trip to the state tournament, where they beat Central Catholic-Morgan City by 13 points in the semifinals before losing in the final by five to Lafayette Christian Academy, which won its third consecutive state title.
The Warriors trailed by as many as 12 in the second half. Thomas scored nine points on four consecutive possessions in the final 2 minutes to give the Warriors a chance to force overtime, but a 3-pointer bounced off the rim with 4 seconds left and LCA added two clinching free throws. Thomas scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the game and was named first-team all-state.
3 Hathaway (2016-17) — The Hornets (31-3), led by head coach Carlo Maggio and a pair of standout players in guard Trey Blanchard and forward Trenton Guidry, stormed out of the gates with 10 consecutive wins to open the season before losing to Class 3A Iowa. Hathaway went on a 10-game winning streak that stretched to 13 with playoff wins versus Castor, Mount Hermon and Simsboro to set up a title showdown with Zwolle in Burton Coliseum.
Hathaway started the game on a tear, building a 25-9 second-quarter lead before going cold from the floor in a 37-34 loss. Guidry was named second-team all-state after averaging 17.6 points. Maggio was named Class B Coach of the Year.
4 Fairview (2013-14) — The Panthers went 28-5, reaching the championship game of the Class B playoffs before losing to Midland, 61-51. Forward Brennan Maddox powered the Panthers, averaging 22 points per game en route to first-team all-state honors.
Midland was a season-long thorn in the Panthers' side, beating Fairview twice in the regular season. Fairview's other two losses were a two-pointer to Class 3A St. Louis Catholic and by 15 to Class 4A DeRidder. Aside from the three losses to the Rebels, Fairview dominated Class B, winning all but two games by double figures — an eight-point regular-season win at Hornbeck and a four-point win over Florien in the semifinal round of the playoffs.
The Panthers swept the individual awards on the all-state team, with Maddox named MVP and Ron Stark winning Coach of the Year.
5 St. Louis (2015-16) — The Saints finished the season 25-5, winning District 4-3A outright by sweeping all 10 games as part of a 14-game winning streak that ended with a loss to eventual state champion University in the semifinal round of the Class 3A playoffs.
A pair of future college players, P.J. Hardy (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Kelvin Henry (LSU-Shreveport) led the Saints.
A three-point loss to Wossman on a neutral court was the sole defeat in the final 18 regular-season games. The Saints swept home games against North Vermilion, Parkview Baptist and Carroll in the playoffs to reach the state tournament at Burton Coliseum. Hardy was named second-team all-state after averaging 22 points per game.