ASH, Peabody title wins help coaches, seniors solidify legacies
Days later and the city of Alexandria is still on Cloud 9.
In what has been a hectic and stressful time due to the sports world being stopped due to COVID-19, Peabody and Alexandria Senior High provided a brief escape last weekend as both boys basketball teams won titles.
The Class 4A title win over Breaux Bridge only added to longtime Warhorse coach Charles Smith’s long resume, which included him becoming the Louisiana record-holder in wins on March 6.
With 1,074 wins and eight state titles as a head coach, Smith continues to be one of the state’s elite coaches.
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"There would be no Coach Smith without these players," Smith said Saturday. "Someone asked me the other day, 'How have you been able to relate to these guys for a long period of time?' They would tell you honesty, love and that I have them at heart and they know that. They're willing to pour their heart and soul out for me and for Peabody basketball."
ASH coach Lance Brasher is one of those players responsible for Smith’s eight championship wins as a head coach – being part of the 2004 team that went 41-0 to win the Class 4A title.
After coming agonizingly close to the boys state tournament in 2014 and 2017 with quarterfinal runs at Tioga, Brasher delivered his first year in the Trojan purple and gold and proved to be fruitful as he now has a title as a player and as a coach.
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"If you told me that we would be here in the summer or even in December, I probably would have called you a liar," Brasher said Friday. "But we did. In January we started really playing the type of defense that I envisioned all of our guys being able to play."
The titles also do a lot for the legacies of the players of both teams, especially for the seniors.
Class 4A title game MVP Melvion Flanagan and Thomas Miles both played in limited roles during Peabody’s last championship win in 2017, while Marcus Jones and Andrew Pearson watched from the bench as current college players Cedric Russell and Kevin Norman were captains of that squad.
Now, all four players, including fellow senior Kaijalon Smith, played major roles in this year’s win.
"(Coach Smith) preached all year about leaving a legacy at Peabody," Kaijalon said. "It was just an honor. Give all praises to God for letting us leave a legacy at Peabody."
Like the Warhorse seniors, this championship also meant a lot for the ASH seniors, as most of the member of both teams grew up with each other.
Trojan seniors such as Dez McQuain, Eric Speed and Class 5A title game MVP Latrell Holly had never won a playoff game prior to this season. Now, they can walk away as champions and proud of being the first players to bring the title to Ola Street.
"We just kept our heads high and kept playing, because Coach Brasher said, 'Don't give up, because you never know what might happen,'" McQuain said about the Trojans' run to the state title.
Even more impressive is the respect that both programs have for each other.
Both coaches had a lot of glowing things to say about the other after their wins.
"A lot of this is him and he is the (greatest of all time) for a reason," Brasher said of Smith. "That's why we try to play them as many times as possible. That's why we play them in the Hall of Fame game. I think that actually helped us prepare for our playoff run. Those guys make you better. They set where the bar is, and that's where we're trying to get."
Smith said, "ASH, with the addition of Coach Brasher, has really become a part of Peabody's family. I'm very pleased and proud for him, because he came up under my tutelage. I'm very proud for Coach Brasher and the ASH Trojans."