The holiday season is a time to close the book on the fall portion of high-school sports and take a look at what is to come in the winter and spring.

Here are some stories to follow in Livingston Parish as the focus shifts from football fields and cross-country courses to basketball courts and baseball diamonds.

WALKER BASKETBALL TAKES IT SHOT: There has never been a better time for the Walker boys to make a run at some championship banners.

The Wildcats were off to another fast start through 13 games this season (11-2) after losing only one player from a team that won 25 games and reached the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. They are balanced, experienced and, thanks to a nice mixture of guard play and post presence, seemingly complete.

The boys basketball playoffs begin in late February and finish with the state tournament March 5-10 at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.

But don't wait that long to see this team play.

The Walker gym will be the site of some major showdowns in January when the Wildcats host East Ascension, Madison Prep and Riverside over the space of eight days. Of course, the can't-miss ticket is Jan. 30 when powerhouse District 4-5A rival Scotlandville comes calling.

SEE YOU IN ALEXANDRIA?: The state girls basketball tournament shifts from Hammond to Alexandria this year, but teams like Holden, Albany and Denham Springs wouldn't mind having to make that drive.

Holden won the Livingston Parish tournament for the second straight year and was in the midst of an impressive 15-0 start entering the Christmas break. Senior guard Kaylee Hughes has signed with McNeese State.

Holden became the 16th team from Livingston Parish to win a state championship when the Rockets took home the Class B title in 2016.

This year's state tournament tips off Feb. 29 at the Rapides Coliseum.

KICKING INTO ACTION: The Denham Springs boys soccer team has been among the area's most consistent outfits since making its first postseason appearance four years ago. The Yellow Jackets hope to take the next step this season and make a run at state.

The rigors of district play should give Denham a good idea where it stands.

But the mark-your-calendar match comes when the Yellow Jackets travel to face four-time defending state champion St. Paul's on Jan. 18 in Covington.

The state championships in boys and girls soccer will be played Feb. 23-24 at Louisiana-Lafayette.

DUNCAN'S DEBUT: Sophomore Paige Duncan is back home after spending her freshman season at IMG Academy in Florida and has the potential to be a headline-maker for Denham Springs during the high-school season.

Duncan owns all kinds of USTA hardware as one of the top junior players in the region.

The state LHSAA tennis tournament is April 23-27 at Louisiana-Monroe.

HOLDEN ALL THE CARDS: The Holden softball team was a year ahead of schedule last year when the Rockets won their first state championship in the sport, so they will certainly be the team to beat in Class B if they make it back to state again this year.

Pitcher Olivia Lackie leads a group of young stars for Holden after posting a 26-1 record with 383 strikeouts as a freshman.

Teams like Denham Springs and Live Oak are sure to make their run as well, and Maurepas nearly joined Holden as a state champion in 2017 before falling in the Class C title game.

State tournament games will be played April 26-28 at Frasch Park in Sulphur.

DOUGHTY, DENHAM HIT THE DIAMOND: Denham Springs pitcher-shortstop Cade Doughty is only a junior but has already been committed to LSU baseball for a year and a half.

Doughty earned all-state accolades in 2017 after leading Denham to the 5A quarterfinals, then spent part of his summer participating in the 17U National Team Development program. He and the Yellow Jackets will have an eye on the state tournament May 9-12 at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

District 4-5A rival Walker is another team worth monitoring after the Wildcats made a surprise run to the quarterfinals last year.

BACK TO THE GRIDIRON: OK, so football still makes this list.

Among the story lines when spring practice gets under way in late April will be how Live Oak handles prosperity after breaking through with a quarterfinal appearance in coach Brett Beard's third season.

Sal Palermo, a junior last year, will give the Eagles their first returning starter at quarterback since Live Oak transitioned to its veer-option offense in 2015.

Scott Hotard covers sports for The Livingston-Tangipahoa Advocate. He can be contacted at or