THE SPECTATOR with Tryve Brackin
What do Class 2-A championship football game and traditional powers John Curtis and Evangel Christian have in common with Plaquemine High’s Green Devil basketball team?
How about this: Curtis and Evangel had to go out of state to lose their only gridiron games thus far in 2008. And, yes, as of Friday night, the same can be said for the PHS round ball team. The Green Devils pushed their season record to an outstanding 9-1 Friday night. The Greenies only loss thus far this early hoop season came out of state two weekends ago against Bob Jones High in a Huntsville, Alabama tournament.
Coach Denny Wright’s Green Devils are off to a blazing start, which many thought might just come true after a junior-heavy 2007-08 PHS club made it all the way to the state semifinals before falling to eventual Class 3-A champ and a senior-heavy Wossman High team.
With nine victories already gleaned and the month of December just starting, the PHS boys seemed destined to a 20-plus-victory season and another run at the 3-A state title. The Devils, a senior club that has played together for three and four varsity seasons, looms as one of the best shots in the Baton Rouge area (along with Class A Christian Life and White Castle) to repeat a trip to the Top Twenty-eight finals.
The Green Devils are loaded with talented seniors. The foursome of Maquel Robinson, Ryan Travis, Cody Edmond, and De’Andre Stevens are working on earning their fourth varsity letter in the sport. Meanwhile, senior Deryl Lewis is working on his third varsity letter. The squad goes deeper in veterans with seniors Evan Franklin, Jeff Ricard, and Kentrell Joseph seeing time coming off the bench. And, the ball club has a talented underclassmen group in DeMario Camper, Demarcus Veal, Adonis Major, and Jeremy Jenkins. The ball club lost only one senior (Adrian Wasso) to graduation in May; and Coach Wright has no reservations in rotating all 12 of his returning players on the court during games, much the same way he did last year when the group was a year younger.
But wait…hold up a minute here…there is a third area team that could very well repeat a trip to the state tournament and perhaps recapture the same District 9-3A title they did last season. Yeap, the Green Devils have one of their toughest rivals for state honors competing against them yet again for the 9-3A title. It is none other than West Baton Rouge Parish neighbor Port Allen High.
Coach Kirby Loupe’s Pelicans also have gotten off to a solid start this early cager season and their 7-3 mark includes a 67-60 victory last week over White Castle to go with the Brusly tournament title. The PAHS boys are not quite as loaded with veteran seniors as PHS, but they have a solid lineup to go with the pride carried on from last year’s district crown and run to the state semifinals.
Coach Loupe has a pair of steady scorers in Tyler Washington and Austin Allen, while Jonathan Paul and Devin Payne are two more key starters. Added to that mix is the brother duo of Leonard Parker, Jr. and Marcus Parker, whose dad, Leonard Parker, Sr. is the Pel assistant coach.
The Parker family provides an interesting footnote. Dad Leonard is a former head football coach at North Iberville. Mom Wyvetta Parker is the principal at NIHS. And little brother Nicholas Parker, only a seventh grader, is a starting guard on the NIHS Bear boys’ basketball team.
Yes, Plaquemine High looms as one of the best bets to make it all the way come March 2009, but first the Green Devils have to go through Port Allen to make their way to legendary honors.
If you want to watch some outstanding prep basketball come January/February mark Friday, Jan. 23 and Tuesday, Feb. 10 on your calendar. PHS hosts Port Allen in January and then travels to the Pelicans gym in February. It could be two of the best district title matches around these parts this hoop season.