CHAMPS!

Andrew Green agreen@postsouth.com
Class 1A State Champs, the 2016-17 White Castle Bulldogs.

Head coach Troy Green and the White Castle Bulldogs have done it!  After earning a 60-47 victory over No. 6 Tensas, WCHS earned its seventh 1A title in boy’s basketball and first under Troy Green’s leadership.

“This is an incredible feeling,” Green said.  “Just unbelievable.  We had a good group of kids, and we rode the back of Ja’Tyre Carter in the final, who had 19 points and 17 rebounds in the win.  He led us all year.”

The big senior center saved one of his best performances for his final court appearance.  “It feels great to give back to my town,” Ja’Tyre Carter said.  “It is a tradition so we had to keep it going.  I’m going to miss playing with my brothers, but we ended the season with a 1A State Championship trophy.”

Carter’s Teammate Princeton Young followed with a double-double of his own with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the final.  The rest of the young squad, Unique Young, DJ Pierce, Kenneth Bracken and Tre’ Melancon all remained steadily dominant throughout their postseason journey for the 1A crown.

White Castle trailed 12-16 after the first, but stepped on the gas pedal in the second, took the lead and never looked back.

The Bulldogs put up a dominant second quarter performance which resulted in a 17-4 score differential between the two 1A final teams.  WCHS took a 29-20 lead at the half, and built on that lead through the third.  The Bulldogs held a 42-34 lead after three, and scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to close the game out with a final 60-47 victory.

Claiming the 1A title has been a lifelong dream for coach Troy Green, a White Castle native who donned the maroon jersey under former head coach Ronald Johnson.  Green took over the reins as head coach in 2013.

Though WCHS found their happy ending, the 2017 season was a tough road to travel.

“Overall we played a tough schedule,” Green said.  “To play the schedule we did is unheard of.  The schedule was brutal, but it prepared us and we had the personnel to do it.”

The Bulldogs did not play their first 1A matchup this season until district play began.  Coach Green and his staff have caught some flak for playing high classifications in pre-district because it affects the team’s rank.  There is no arguing now whether or not it was all worth it.

“It was tough at times to travel,” Green said.  “We lost six games at the buzzer against good teams.  As the season went on, the team started gelling and earning the important wins.

“The schedule was tough, but it really helped us adjust easily for 1A teams.  You want to be playing your best ball in February and March.  When the playoffs start, that’s when you want to be hitting on all cylinders.”

Even as the tough pre-district games ended, the woes did not.  The Bulldogs lost one of their starters, junior Tamarcus Fair, to an foot injury.  Fair was an anchor on the inside for the Bulldogs and a talented shooter and often served as the key difference between a win and a loss in the 2017 season.

“That tells a lot about our team,” Green said.  “When Fair went down, we really didn’t know what we were going to do.  It just seems like the next man just stepped up and played.  It speaks volumes about the talent and the heart of this team.”

After closing out the regular season with a 10-2 district record, the Bulldogs earned the No. 4 seed in the 1A playoffs, and three straight home games to start their postseason run.  WCHS opened with a 96-46 win over No. 29 D’Arbonne Woods Charter, then 77-46 over No. 13 Grand Lake, 65-46 over No. 12 Haynesville and hit the road for an upset semi-final 58-42 win over the No. 1 seed Sicily Island before closing out with the crown.

Congratulations to the White Castle Bulldogs and a fantastic season!