Donaldsonville 8-year-old basketball all-stars qualify for national tournament

The Donaldsonville Tigers 8-year-old boys basketball team has qualified for the national tournament that will be held this weekend in Thibodaux. Head coach Dio Bernard and his team had quite the season this year.

On Jan. 29, the team took second place honors in the Madisonville Invitational. They followed up that performance with another second place finish Feb. 5 in the Donaldsonville Invitational Tournament. Things took a turn for the better when the boys captured a first place finish in the Walker Invitational and followed that feat with another first place finish in the regional tournament on March 5 in LaPlace.

Coach Bernard and the team will head to LaPlace for the opening ceremonies on Friday to compete against 16 teams from all over, including squads from as far away as Dallas, Texas, and Indiana.

In the opening round of the regional tourney, the Donaldsonville team faced the St. John All-Stars and came away with an impressive 48-21 win. Quinnton Dabney scored a game-high 12 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.

In game two, Donaldsonville took on the New Orleans team and scored another impressive 51-32 victory. Ja'Maya Brown led the way for Donaldsonville as he scored 21 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, along with 5 assists and 10 steals.

In the third round, the All-Stars from Slidell felt the wrath of Donaldsonville’s defense as they were held to 17 points and the Tigers finished the game with a 36-17 win. Taeshawn Jones led the effort with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 7 steals.

The team from New Orleans won the losers bracket, so Donaldsonville had to face New Orleans again in the finals. Donaldsonville played hard in the first game but lost the contest 29-26. Trevor Johnson had the hot hand and scored 10 points early but had to leave the game with an injury that kept him out of the final game.

Since it was a double elimination tournament, the two teams faced off after a 15-minute break to determine the champion. Donaldsonville got off to a very slow start and the first quarter ended up with New Orleans holding a commanding 12-5 lead. Jaden Allen, another key role player, had limited playing time as well due to injury,

Things didn’t get any better in the second quarter as New Orleans could manage to score only 2 points, but the Tigers didn’t score any and the half ended with Donaldsonville behind 14-5.

“Our kids made a pledge at halftime that they would go out and leave it all on the floor,” Bernard said. “And that they did, as we held them to only 2 points in the second half. We had a great defensive effort by Kamryn Schexnayder and Ja'Maya Brown to say the least.”

To say the Tigers mounted a comeback is an understatement, as the team outscored their opponent 34-2 in the second half to come away with a 39-16 win to advance to the national tournament. Kamryn and Ja'Maya were the players who led the effort that won the game.

A big congrats goes out to the Tigers All-Star team along with coaches Bernard and Jamie Brown for winning the final game with one starter out with injury and another with limited playing time. They really stepped up. Good luck in the nationals.

Parish high school anglers qualify for national championship

Cade Fortenberry, of St. Amant High, and Brennan Edmond Paxton, of Dutchtown High, representing the Ascension Anglers, advanced to the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship by sacking five bass that weighed 17 pounds, 7 ounces at Toledo Bend while competing in the High School Central Open over the weekend.

The two anglers spent the weekend before scouting on the nation’s best bass lake, according to Bassmaster.com, for the contest held this past weekend.

“We did really well that first weekend as the bass were on the beds ready to spawn,” Brennan said. “But when we got back on the lake on Thursday, we couldn’t get a bite and we had to start over.”

The team eventually headed offshore looking for where the bass had moved to and caught a few fish, but nothing spectacular. “We finally pulled up on a hump and caught three bass on three casts and left it to save the spot for the tournament,” Brennan said.

All their fish were caught using a Carolina Rig with three different plastic baits. One was a Fluke, one was a brush hog and the third was a Missle Destroyer. But the fish wouldn’t touch their baits unless the tails were dipped in chartreuse/garlic dye.

The pair pulled up on the spot they found in practice and on their second cast Cade pulled in a 5-pound bass to get the day off to a good start. The action was fast as within a few more casts the team boated a 3-pounder and added a 2-pound, 12-ouncer right behind it. By 8 a.m., the duo had their limit as they boated a couple of small ones and the fish turned off.

Cade and Brennan headed out during the middle of the day to try a couple of their other spots but didn’t have a bite. Returning to their honey hole, Brennan caught a 5-pounder on his third cast and they were able to cull out their two smallest bass before heading to the weigh-in.

Cade will be heading to his third national high school championship. Asked about fishing with a school rival as he is from St. Amant and Brennan attends Dutchtown, Cade said, “We’ve been friends and have known each other from fishing tournaments, so it’s pretty cool.”

This will be Brennan’s first competition at the national level. “The win has sunk in and this is a great opportunity for me. I can’t wait for the tournament on Kentucky Lake this summer,” he said.

Two other anglers, who are no rookies for the national scene, qualified as well. The 2015 Bassmaster High School national champions Alex Heintze and Justin Watts of the Livingston Parish Bassmasters came in second with a bag of 22 pounds, 3 ounces. Alex and Justin fished with Carolina rigs and football head jigs in 12 feet of water to boat their haul Saturday. Good luck to both teams.

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