It doesn’t matter how old you are, the talent always rises to the top on the basketball court.
Just ask Reggie Gause, of Covington High School, and Kyren Whittington, of Northlake Christian School.
Despite each still having a year of eligibility remaining in their prep careers, Gause and Whittington were recently named the 2018-2019 St. Tammany Farmer Parish Basketball Players of the Year.
Gause, a 6-foot-5-inch guard, helped lead the Lions to a 24-10 season in Hunter Reid’s first year at the helm. The Most Valuable Player in District 6-5A, the sharpshooting lefty averaged 20 points a contest and was held to below double digits only three times in 34 games.
“For a coach in his first year like myself, having a player like Reggie made things so much easier,” Reid said. “It’s funny because (Gause’s) ability to score the basketball as easily as he could sometimes allowed me as a coach to focus on teaching and implementing what we are trying to do defensively.
“Looking back on it now, that time early in the season allowed us really in the second half of district play to shine on that side of the court. I mean, for example, we held a very good Ponchatoula team to under 50 points. I don’t know if we could have done that had it not been for Reggie’s ability to score the ball. Our focus would have had to be elsewhere. That’s a credit to Reggie and what he can do with the ball in his hands.”
Throughout the season Gause was the top priority for opposing defenses facing the Lions. That didn’t stop the junior guard from still leading the team in scoring.
“Remember he had to deal with the double teams and face guarding pretty much all season,” Reid said. “That frustrated him at times, but we were able to figure out some ways to get him to move and create open looks for him. That’s what good players do, they want to get better. Reggie always wants to get better.
“The other thing that gets overlooked with Reggie Gause is his ability to handle the ball. We had some young guards at times, and Reggie gave us a confident ballhandler when we were facing pressure while our young kids grew and matured. That’s invaluable for any team’s success. I’m excited because he’s coming back next year. He hasn’t reached his peak yet, but when that happens, the rest of this state better watch out.”
A member of the Northlake Christian squad since seventh grade, Whittington had another solid campaign for the Wolverines. Averaging 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals a game, she helped lead Northlake Christian to a 24-5 mark and the school’s second appearance in the Division III title game in three seasons.
“She’s played basketball her entire life, but I really believe the last three seasons she has successfully taken it up a notch,” Northlake Christian coach Aaron Agresta said. “I mean the week after our basketball season ended, she was right back in the gym ready to get better and just ready to get to work. Her motivation is simple; she wants to play college basketball.
“Her maturity on and off the court these last five years has been a joy to watch. Take, for example, this season. Her late-game decision making improved tremendously. In the past games would be close and many players on this team froze. That didn’t happen this year with her. She developed an ability on how to take over games late and what shots to take late in key situations.”
Having already surpassed the 2,000-career point mark, Whittington will enter her senior season with a chance to become the all-time leading scorer in the history of Northlake Christian School.
“It’s hard but I try to slow time down sometimes to realize I may be coaching the greatest player in the history of the school,” Agresta said of his junior forward. “I only get to coach her for one more season. It’s hard because of the grind of the season and stuff, but I guess the best thing I can say about Kyren Whittington is that thus far it has been a pleasure to coach her and I look forward to the chance to do it for one more go-round.”