WCHS boys miss out on title 3-peat

Tryve Brackin
Bulldog Keyon Giroir shoots over Lion defender Kyran Ratliff in the 68-62 loss to KIPP Booker T. Washington in the state quarterfinal.

The White Castle High boys basketball team entered the state basketball playoffs with high hopes of garnering a possible third-straight Class 1-A school title last week. But it would not come their way.

WCHS (23-6) led the charge of all four Iberville Parish teams as they were the number one bracket seed.

Looming right behind the Bulldogs were two and three-seeded North Central and Jonesboro Hodge.

Having known the Bulldogs' Coach Troy Green, a former Bulldog hoop star and Southeastern La. University basketball legend, I gave him a call before the start of the postseason to get his insight on the NCHS, JHS contenders.

Green noted both second and third seeds play each other on the flip side of the bracket, but his club had one expected major hurdle before possibly facing one of the two by tournament title.

"We have to get by (KIPP) Booker T. Washington High in the quarterfinals," Coach Green said. "They are a team that has played together since youth AAU ball and are dangerous because of it."

Booker T. Washington was a New Orleans public high that had off-and-on success down through the years, but was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The facility was revamped post-hurricane as a magnet school with the KIPP title added to its name. Their team is now plays in a new, modern gym.

Green noted that the AAU team stayed intact and merged as a group to become the Lions.

"Their kids have played together longer than my group, and that is saying a lot," he said. "Because our kids have knowneach other through elementary, but not played as long as a team unit. We will be tested."

And the Bulldogs were. The Lions knocked the Bulldogs out of the state 1-A tourney berth last week by a 68-62 score. The 8th seeded Lions moved on to a semifinal game Monday against Delhi in the state tourney in Lake Charles. If they won they would face the winner of the other semifinal match between JH-North Central for the crown.

WCHS missed out on a third-straight state title as well as an unprecedented eight state crown, or, if less productive, a chance at a seventh state runner-up finish. However, White Castle boys basketball added to an amazing record of 46 consecutive years of earning a state hoop playoff berth, going back to the early 1970s. Coach John Bueche honed the Castlemen into a title contender by the late 1970s and began the title runs. Ronald Johnson picked it up from there with a handful of titles, and his former player Green now has the program seeking a three-peat.

Certainly not to be overlooked are the rest of the Iberville hoop clubs, each of whom notched 7th seed berths in the playoffs.

East Iberville (7th seeded) continued a long history of postseason participation, going all the way back to the old Sunshine High days before the new school was built. But no titles have been garnered by the Tigers. They lost in the quarterfinals 71-61 to Joneboro Hodge.

The St. John High Eagle boys’ program notched a berth in Select Division IV but lost in the regionals to district rival Southern Lab. They were very competitive, surprising opponents, and finishing 14-15 overall. The Eagles earned a select 7th seed, because they competed well enough in the tough District 6-A, perhaps the best hoop league in the classification in recent years.

Class 4-A Plaquemine High won their District 6-4A crown and went on a run to the quarterfinals before Leesville High tripped them up by a single point (58-57). It was a tough loss for the Green Devils.

Overall, it was a solid showing in the postseason as WCHS, Plaquemine, and East Iberville all claimed two playoff victories apiece.

Tryve Brackin is a former Post-South editor.