Glory And Pain
LHSAA Top 28 says goodbye to the Cajun Dome.
by Jamie Palmer / @deepsouthhoops
LAFAYETTE, LA — After 15 years of hosting the Top 28, the Cajun Dome committee, or the “Blue Coats” as the locals call them, will pass the torch next year to the good folks of the Century Tel Center in Bossier City.
The LHSAA Top 28 made its final appearance at the Louisiana Cajun Dome this past Saturday and it was only fitting that Bossier City, next year’s Top 28 host, had one of its own, Bossier High, representing in the 4A championship.
Bossier High Bearkats were making their third straight 4A championship game at the Cajun Dome, losing the previous two against Salmen in 2009 and 2010 to Peabody Magnet. The Bearkats were able to get a little revenge this year by beating Salmen in the 4A semis, 50-46 in overtime, and won 59-48 over Peabody Magnet to be crowned the 4A champions.
“It feels pretty good,” said senior guard Jalen West. “We paid everyone back.”
Jalen West wasn’t the only senior guard feeling good. Possibly the smallest guard in the Top 28, 5-7 senior guard Joseph James was feeling really good when his double-double performance earned him game MVP honors. The little man snagged 11 boards while posting 12 points.
Bossier guards combined for 35 of 59 total points, 16 of 28 total rebounds, and all three guards played 32 minutes each. The BearKats only played six players compared to 11 by Peabody.
“They have some extremely talented guards,” said Peabody head coach Charles Smith. “My guards hustled hard and we were able to get back into the ballgame, but their experienced guards kept their composure and found a way to score some crucial baskets.”
One of those guards who hustled hard for Peabody was Dequavious Wagner, scoring 21 points. The 5-10 junior point guard scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half. The Warhorses shot only 35 percent from the field and 2-20 from behind the arc.
“It hurts because we lost,” said Wagner. “I really don’t know what to say.”
The Bossier loss not only caused Peabody to give up their crown as 4A champs but gave the Warhorses their first loss in the title game at the Top 28. Peabody was 4-0 in Top 28 title games before Sunday’s loss to Bossier.
Some would say the Louisiana Cajun Dome was a second home for Peabody Magnet. The Warhorses from Alexandria captured four 4A titles in 10 Top 28 appearances during the 15 years at the Cajun Dome.
In the 5A title game, powerhouse St. Augustine from New Orleans blew past Baton Rouge’s Scotlandville, 67-43.
Javan Felix scored 23 points and earned the game’s MVP trophy. His best came in the second quarter where he scored 8 points on 4-4 shooting. St. Augustine outscored Scotlandville 21-3 in the second quarter.
“I had in my head if they come out in man, I’d be able to get to the goal and get my teammates involved,” Felix said. “In the second quarter, I told myself I had to get to the goal, and that’s what I was able to do.”
The victory gave the Purple Knights its second 5A title at the Top 28 and fourth title since joining 5A in 1992.
“This is a great feeling,” Felix said. “It feels like we’re back on top of basketball in the city.”
St. Augustine, just like the Cajun Dome, will also have a tradition of their own ending this season. The Purple Knights will be ending their days in the Catholic League by moving down to 4A next season.
“It’s special when you consider all the lasts that we’ve seen this year,” said St. Augustine head coach Cliff Barthe. “It’s the last year for the Top 28 and the last year for the Catholic League. It’s the last year that we’ll be in 5A, moving to 4A next season.”
So I guess it only seemed fitting that St. Augustine, en-route of winning the 5A state title, beat its Catholic League rival Brother Martin in the semifinals of the Top 28.
Here is a list of the nationally ranked players at this year’s LHSAA Top 28.
Brian Bridgewater, 2013, 6-5, Forward, Episcopal (Baton Rouge)
The SLAM “Picture Me Ball’n” participant did all he could in the class 2A semifinals against powerhouse Riverside. In the much anticipated match-up against Ricardo Gathers, the 6-5 wing forward scored 23 points, 10 rebounds and blocked four shots in a losing effort. Bridgewater definitely showed he can step outside and shoot the three where connected on two of his six attempts. His size says stay on the block but his quickness and ability to shoot and handle the ball will allow him at times play on the wing.
Ricardo Gathers, 2012, 6-7, Forward, Riverside (Reserve)
The 6-7 power forward had a double-double in his victory over Evangel Christian in the class 2A finals. The 2A tournament MVP scored 18 points on 6-9 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. In the match-up against Brian Bridgewater, Gathers scored 17 points on 7-16 shooting and grabbed 5 rebounds along with 3 blocks and 3 steals in the class 2A semifinal blowout win. Ricardo has definitely improved his outside game where he is feeling more comfortable shooting the three where he went 2-6 for the tournament. His one-two pullup is looking more natural and he is looking less like a robot with every game. His money is on the block but it seems he is improving more on his outside game instead of perfecting his back to the basket game.
Javan Felix, 2012, 5-11, Guard, St Augustine (New Orleans)
The 5-11 stocky point guard hushed all critics after his MVP performance in the 5A title game. Felix scored 23 points on 9-17 shooting, 2-5 from three, 3-4 at the charity stripe, dished out 3 assists and had 2 steals. Felix is at best in transition where he likes to guide his defender on his hip all the way to the basket. He also has a very high IQ for the game and can put the ball anywhere he wants in transition by using his big hands to pass or pull up off the bounce. If he can take this performance into this spring and summer his stock could rise on the national radar. Baylor’s assistant Jerome Tang was a WITNESS of Javan Felix game this past weekend.
Craig Victor, 2014, 6-7, Forward, St Augustine (New Orleans)
Victor had his best performance in the 5A semifinal against Brother Martin where he chalked up a double-double scoring 13 points on 6-11 shooting, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking 5 shots. The long, smooth big is at best with his back to the basket. He uses his length very well to shoot jump hooks over both shoulders. When he steps outside he becomes more passive and is very good at passing to other bigs in high-low action. Victor does have the ability to face up from the short areas and can use one-two dribble getting to the rack.