Barry Whittington graduated from East Ascension High School in 2003 with aspirations to become a head basketball coach after finishing college. He received his degree from LSU in 2008, and immediately accepted a job at Donaldsonville High School. Whittington taught and coached at Donaldsonville for six years, eventually taking the reins as head coach for the boys’ basketball team for two years and the girls basketball team for one year.

“I’ve always dreamed of coming back to Gonzales, so one of my goals was to return to my alma mater at East Ascension to be a head coach, and this past summer, the opportunity came up and I took it. It’s great to be back home,” Whittington said.

But his homecoming came with the opportunity and challenge of building a team from the ground up.

“We lost our most experienced player on the team, senior Dede Jones, due to an injury that ended his season,” Whittington said. “We have two seniors that don’t have much playing time, so our team is made up of mostly sophomores and freshmen. Right now, we’re just taking our lumps and building a good foundation for the future.”

That future rests on the shoulders of the young players. Freshman shooting guard Shedrick Smith, junior forward Bilal Frank and freshman guard Jimel London all have stepped up their game and will help the effort for the future.

Justin Harris, a 6-foot-6 center, will be joining the team mid-season.

“(Harris) is a good player that will help out, but it will take time to get him into the flow,” Whittington said.

“And things are looking up. We’re practicing and playing hard, but we shoot ourselves in the foot by getting behind early. We’ve got a good foundation to work off of.”

The basketball season is about midway and district play is about to begin for all of our high schools in the parish. The Spartans will travel Friday to Tara and Tuesday to Zachary for their final tune-up games before district play begins.

Fishing for Tucker

Although hunting season is still in full swing, it’s time for the charitable bass tournament season to kick off. Some anglers take time off of the water to spend some of it in the woods or marshes hunting for their favorite animal or bird. But when Jan. 1 hits, the fishing bones get to stirring for those who took a break.

Our area anglers pull together like the rest of our local communities to support these very worthy causes. Usually, no matter what the weather might throw, these guys and gals turn out in force for some heavy competition and money-raising for folks in need.

The first one on the schedule is “Fishing for Tucker.” This tournament is in its fifth year and is quickly becoming one of the most popular tournaments of the season. The date for the early season event is Feb. 7, and it will be hosted again at Cabela’s, 2200 W. Cabela’s Parkway, in Gonzales.

There will be three launch sites: Doiron’s (either side) in Stephensville, Belle River Public Landing in Belle River and Bayside in Pierre Part. There will be no boundaries; all navigable waters will be accessible from these launch sites and will be open to the public. The prestart check-in will start at 4 a.m.

The Pre-Tournament Angler Briefing will be Jan. 31 at Cabela’s. Registration will begin at 6 p.m. and the meeting will start at 6:45 p.m.

The payout for the first-place team will be determined by participation: $1,000 with 50 teams registered and $2,000 for 100 teams; and $500 will be awarded for Big Bass.

A schedule of tournament information and festivities can be found at fishingfor tucker.com or call Ryan Lavigne at (225) 921-9332 or Eddie Hymel at (225) 610-9962.

The children’s fishing derby will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for four age groups from 3 to 14 years old.

Jambalaya will be available for $5 a plate, and there will be a bake sale.

Ascension Area Anglers invite anglers and the public out to help raise funds for Tucker Townsend.

“We at Fishing for Tucker would like to personally thank our great sponsors, volunteers and, most of all, the anglers who support us year in and year out. Without the continuous support of you anglers, our cause could not have proven its success.”

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