Bonita Johnson isn’t a coach who likes to recite a lot of personal history. But the University High girls basketball coach made an exception when the East girls team met for the first time Friday afternoon.
The annual LHSCA All-Star basketball games set for Saturday at Bossier Parish Community College are a showcase for the players. Johnson, who played in the LHSCA game in 1981 after playing at DeRidder, said the event is about more than shooting and skills.
“Playing in this game is something I talk about, because it is more than just a game,” Johnson said. “It’s an experience that lasts for a lifetime, and I want the players to see that part of it. They’ll get the chance to play with people from other schools who they’ve played against and make new friends.
“You never know. The year I played we had Karl Malone, John “Hot Rod” Williams and Derrick Taylor on the boys teams. Madeline Doucet (future LSU star and Johnson teammate) was in the girls game. You make memories.”
Players reported to Bossier City on Friday for practices and a banquet. The girls game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday. The boys game follows at 3 p.m.
There were only a handful of changes on the rosters but most involved Baton Rouge area players. Lexi McMorris of Denham Springs replaced Warren Easton’s Kechelle Figueroa on the girls East squad.
Three players did not report for the boys East boys squad — Scotlandville’s Jordan Adebutu, Southern Lab’s Bladrick Veal and Jaimarkeis Percy of Delhi. LHSCA boys coordinator Denny Wright of Grand Isle said St. Paul’s Harrison Prieto joined the East team as an alternate.
Johnson is one of two local coaches involved this year. Walker’s Korey Arnold is the East assistant coach, filling the role Johnson had a year ago.
The addition of McMorris gives the girls East team an even bigger local presence. The St. Michael duo of Tyler Morrison and Sabree Wilson are part of the East team along with U-High’s Chelsea Verrett, Walker’s Keeona Brown and Sydney Hayden of Holden.
“We only have them for a couple of practices and certain things are decided, like both teams playing man-to-man defense,” Johnson said. “So you go over that and you come up with some lineups. You see who has chemistry together.
“Getting to coach the players from other schools that we’ve played against or seen is something I look forward to. It is about (players) having fun.”