Area girls basketball teams start run to state tourney

Warren Arceneaux

A year after helping LaGrange win its first state championship in program history, the three returning Lady Gator starters are still hungry.

Aasia Sam, Deja Tanks and Jeriah Warren, all college signees after Tanks signed with LSU-Eunice Monday, are back to lead the Gators again. Head coach La’Keem Holmes said the trio is better than ever.

“They have taken a bigger leadership role,” Holmes said. “With so many different girls added to the rotation they have to really be an extension of the coaches on the court. They also set such great examples on how to work,”

Warren, a Florida signee, was a first team all state pick after averaging 17 points per game. Sam, a UL-Monroe signee, earned second team honors, scoring 15 per game. Tanks had 15 rebounds in the championship game win over two-time defending champion Warren Easton.

Holmes said he’ll be looking for improvement on defense over the course of the season.

“Last year’s team was the best defensive team in the state because they took pride in it,” he said. “Defense is an effort and energy thing. If we can defend we can win.”

Developing depth is another goal entering the season.

“As important as replacing (starters) Alona Gray and Nadailyn Carrier will be finding players to replace the role (reserves) Maddison Johnson and Alanna Stevens played.” Holmes said. “We definitely have some talent ready to show themselves.”

The area’s other champion, Fairview girls in Class B, are also well-stocked for another title run with state MVP Rylee Jinks and fellow guard Rylee Cloud both returning. Hathaway, the Class B runner-up last season, will be among the challengers for Fairview. Chloey Guidry, a first team all state choice last season, returns to lead the Hornets. Lacassine, a semifinalist last season, returns a trio of starters, including first team all state selection Vanessa Duhe.

St. Louis will be hoping to make another run at the Division II title after losing to Lee (now Liberty) in the championship game. The Saints return three starters, including leading scorer Myca Trail, who averaged 21.8 points per game last season.

Lake Arthur reached the Class 2A semifinals last year and has top scorer Deonna Brister, a Nicholls State signee, back for another run. Merryville reached the Class 1A semifinals and return forward Maddie Mahfouz.

Looking for trips back to the state tournament after missing out last year are Reeves in Class C and Elton in Class A. The Raiders are led by LSU-Eunice signee Claire Dunnehoo. Vici Woods, MVP of the 2019 state championship game and a UL-Monroe signee, returns to lead the Indians. Starks reached the Class C quarterfinals last season.LaGrange Gators celebrate their win over Warren Easton in the LHSAA Marsh Madness Class 4A championship game on March 7.

Kirk Meche

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