Basketball season is underway with tournament play that will last for a while, sort of like preseason on the professional side.

The East Ascension Spartans boys sport a 5-1 record going into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend fresh from winning the G.L. Harris Tournament in White Castle.

In the first game of the tournament against the Port Allen Pelicans, the Spartans came away with a 71-43 win. Scoring double digits in all three games was junior guard Koye Ruffin as he led the offensive output with 12 points in the opener. In the second game, the Spartans took on the Plaquemine Devils and topped them 65-46 as Ruffin led the way with a 16-point game.

In the finals, the Spartans toppled the Donaldsonville Tigers 85-54 and again Ruffin led all scorers, ringing up 29 points. Senior point guard Jimel London added a scoring punch for East Ascension in all three games as did junior guard Le’Aaron Cain.

The Spartans have a very young team this season but have the potential to do very well in district play.

“I would describe our team as growing,” said head coach Barry Whittington. “I think we have the potential to be very, very good but we still have so many young kids that don’t seem to have the urgency I’d like them to have. We are growing into that role and we’ll have much more balance than we did last year.”

Although the youth on the team is an asset, court experience from some of the older players will prove valuable.

“With the young team we have, senior forward Bilal Frank, who was co-defensive district player of the year last season, will have to take on some of the court leadership role, along with point guard Jimel London,” he said. “He’ll be sort of our quarterback, leading by action and attitude.”

Two of the younger players that didn’t see much playing time last year that look to be a big asset this year are Cain, who is a good scorer, and Cameron Wire, whose rebounding skills will give the Spartans some goals under the net and the offense more opportunities.

Three of the football team’s players that competed in the playoffs joined the team as well. Justin Harris and Cameron Wire played defensive end on the football team and Shedrick Smith, who is a wide receiver, will be a valued shooter on the basketball team. The trio is playing now but it will take some time to get back in the flow of things.

The district title will be hotly contested this season.

“Catholic High won the district last year and have a lot of guys returning this year so they will be very strong,” he said. “Coach (Harold) Boudreaux will have his team ready, so McKinley will be tough again this year.

“Coach (Travis) Uzee will have the Gators ready and coach (Patrick) Hill with have the Griffins ready and both teams will be very well coached,” the coach added. “We don’t have any cake-walk teams so it will be very tough this year. The team that wins will be the team that has matured throughout the year to be able to handle the places they have to play on the road this year.”

Tournament play will continue until the second week in December for all the parish teams. Then the regular season will begin on Dec. 9 and district play will start in late January.

Fishing is hot in Dularge

Along with celebrating one of my favorite holidays as a time to be grateful, Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest in the outdoors of the year. School is out, the kids are home, fishing is at its peak for the year and just about all the hunting seasons are open.

The weather was cool at the beginning of the week so me and a couple others headed down to Dularge for some fishing. Barry Carpenter was our host and my brother, Alan, rounded out the trio for this angling venture.

We put the boat in at Falgout Canal Marina on Bayou Dularge and headed for Lake DeCade. The specks had arrived for their winter haunt so we had high hopes to catch some.

Our first two hours in two spots produced zero action, not even a bite. But the good thing about this area is the possibility of targeting other species of fish. We headed into the marsh just past Jug Lake and pulled up to our third spot. After moving around a little, I caught a 21-inch redfish, the first one of the day on a plastic cocahoe minnow.

Not long after, Alan caught a 3-pound bass and added another redfish to the ice chest. Things were looking up a little so we headed a little farther up in the marsh. We stopped the boat at the end of a canal and the water was gorgeous so we took out the bass fishing gear.

Working grass beds with spinner baits and the points with a chrome/blue back Sexy Shad, the gang added another 15 bass to the ice chest. We decided to head back to Lake DeCade to finish the day fishing for specks and picked up another bass on the way.

The weather warmed up from the cold morning and sometimes that will lend itself to better fishing for specks. We fished for another hour-and-a-half with the Sexy Shad and plastic baits under a popping cork and put eight specks and two more redfish to the count. That made our total for the day 8 specks, 4 redfish and 17 bass; a great mix of fish that proves we are really blessed in south Louisiana.

But like most usual fishing trips like this, something else turned out to be a little more important than the catch. We grew up in Gaudin subdivision and Barry grew up in Oak Terrace, so we’ve known Barry and his brother, Randy, since we were kids.

Alan and Barry are younger than me by five years so they hung out together. It was so much fun listening to them go back and remember their young teen years. The good times and the bad times, the mischief and the pranks along with all the trouble they got in, but they were great memories. Her we were, in our mid-50s and early 60s, laughing like kids again.

We have much to be thankful for in south Louisiana as far as opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. But let’s not forget friends and families; we are truly blessed.

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.