Newman’s Canin Jefferson drives against Liberty’s Zavier Sims

Do not make the mistake of thinking Liberty’s 59-55 win over Scotlandville last Saturday signals a meteoric boys basketball rise and/or an overnight success story.

The school was named Lee High when Brandon White took over the rebuilding project that has included its share of hard knocks five years ago. White said the struggles made the win over the Class 5A Hornets more meaningful.

“We have five guys who were freshmen my second year who are seniors now,” White said. “We finished 6-22 that year, so it was rough. But those guys and our group of juniors have stuck with it and continued to work.

“Last year we played (Scotlandville) close in the parish tournament, but we let them off the hook. When we got the chance this time, we did not let them off the hook. We were able to finish.”

The Patriots (12-5) were scheduled to be the No. 4 seed in the EBR tourney but had to sit out because of a COVID-19 quarantine. The team is 8-2 since returning to action.

White said that this season's success follows a 20-win season in 2019-20 that included a berth in the Division II quarterfinals.

One of the five seniors, David Weber, led the Patriots with 15 points in win over Scotlandville. The Patriots also used their size to gain an advantage with 6-foot-6 Quenton Henry contributing 11 points and 16 rebounds, while 6-5 Jacob Wilson adding 14 points and 10 rebounds. Zavier Sims added 10 points.

The Patriots have little time to relish Saturday’s big win. Liberty has four games this week. White’s team faces District 7-4A foes Belaire (Tuesday) and Broadmoor (Friday).

Liberty also plays 5A Central on Wednesday and traves to 3A power Madison Prep Saturday for a high-profile girls/boys doubleheader.

“This is going to be another big week for us,” White said. “Hopefully, we can continue to play well and keep getting better.”

COVID complicated

East Ascension (10-10) travels to Dutchtown (8-8) for a District 5-5A boys game set for about 7 p.m. Tuesday. The game is pivotal for both and particularly for the Griffins, who recently finished a quarantine.

Meanwhile two other 5-5A teams find themselves on opposite sides of a COVID quarantine cycle. St. Amant (18-4) has entered a quarantine and will be sidelined until Feb. 5, said coach Gators Travis Uzee. McKinley (10-4) will end its quarantine this week and plays Dutchtown on Friday, said Panthers coach Devan Clark.

Email Robin Fambrough at