Ascension Christian Lions Hoops Preview

Boys

Coach: J.P. Puryear (third year)

Last season: 9-15; Lost to Hanson in the first round of the playoffs

The Ascension Christian Lions move into the 2017 season with optimism after making the playoffs and returning the nucleus of their team. The Lions bring back their leading scorer in Derrick Varnado, who is a sophomore.

"Derrick is a good player and will be counted on heavily this season," said Puryear.

Other players returning are Tyler Cambre, junior; Brandon Suggs, senior; Brady Gueho, freshman; and Luke Sylve, junior.

"We have a young group, some experience at the guard spots; don't have a lot of size," Puryear said.

The roster has some seniors that are playing for the first time and several freshmen that will be counted on. "Big learning curve for these guys, the positive thing is that all of the starters will return in 2018-19," he said.

The Lions will rely heavily on outside shooting and being fundamentally sound on defense. "Our guys will have to block out and play hard each night to compete," the coach said.

The Lions have been competitive thus far and were outmatched one time. The Lions have played a tough pre-district schedule including Covenant Christian and St. Charles.

"We play in such a tough district: (Southern) Lab, White Castle, Kentwood, East Iberville, St. John and Ascension Catholic," Puryear said.

"We don't have great numbers," he added, but the players "have done everything asked of them, that's all a coach can ask for."

Girls

Head Coach: Michelle Evans

Last season: 19-11; Lost to Houma Christian in the second round of the playoffs

The Lady Lions made some noise last season in Class 1A and return the nucleus of their team.

Scoring leader Jamie Robinson (25 points per game), Alona Washington (18 points per game) and Rhesa Jones (12 points per game) all return for the Lady Lions.

"We have our top three scorers returning and some young players that play hard," said Evans.

The Lady Lions have a roster of seven girls, but no one makes excuses about that.

"The girls know we have to be in better shape and fatigue causes defensive breakdowns, that's the area that I would like to see us improve," the coach said.

The Lady Lions scheduled tough teams to prepare them for a district and a playoff run. "The schedule was set up to be challenging, we have been scoring very efficiently so far," Evans said.

The big three of Robinson, Washington and Jones are the focal point of opposing teams but they have not disappointed with their play. "We have had games with each of them scoring 20 or more, they are tough to guard," Evans said.

The schedule will soften some in district with less experienced teams but a date with Southern Lab looms.

"The Kittens are the measuring stick, and we have to be at our best in all games but rally sharp against them," the coach said.

The Lady Lions hope to advance further than last season, and playing hard each night will help in that. "If we play how we are capable of, I like our chances," she said.

Football signings

Donaldsonville High School recently held a ceremony to celebrate two players signing to play football at the next level. Davon Wright signed a letter of intent to play football with Tulane University and Tahj Brown committed to play for the University of Houston.

Troy LeBoeuf covers sports for the Ascension Advocate. He can be reached at troyleboeuf@hotmail.com or ascension@theadvocate.com or on Twitter @Troyleboeuf.