12 boys, girls basketball players to watch

Southwood's Jaiylan Brown will direct the Lady Cowboys this winter.

Southwood’s Jaiylan Brown will direct the Lady Cowboys this winter.

The Louisiana high school basketball season for LHSAA classes 1A through 5A tips off this week with a plethora of games locally, including the inaugural Battle on the Hardwood Classic Thursday through Saturday featuring 33 boys and girls teams playing at several gyms.

Think basketball in northwest Louisiana doesn’t offer a lot of quality? Think again. Of the 14 boys’ and girls’ titles awarded by the LHSAA last spring, half of them were won by teams in the northwest region.

Natchitoches Central won the 5A boys’ crown and returns one of the top players in the state in Brandon Rachel, an LSU signee. The Bossier boys are the defending Class 4A state champions, and are likely to be led by Tyrese English.

Senior guard Tyrese English is expected to lead the defending Class 4A state champs this season.

Senior guard Tyrese English is expected to lead the defending Class 4A state champs this season.

On the girls’ side, North Caddo, the three-time Class 2A state champs, graduated UL Lafayette signee Jasmine Thomas, but returns player-to-watch Destiny Rice. Among the other area schools with that championship feeling were Arcadia and Summerfield with titles in 1A and C respectively by both their boys’ and girls’ teams.

Who has the talent to take that next step this season? It’s hard to call in early season matchups since several schools still competing in the football playoffs must wait for key players to finish their obligations. Terrace Marshall, Justin Rogers and Robert McKnight of Parkway, Tony Dorsey of Loyola, Micah Baskerville of Evangel and Keldrick Carper of Plain Dealing are among the quality basketball players whose court appearance might be delayed by an extended football season.

An early basketball jamboree was held at Airline Saturday with Benton topping Haughton 42-21, Bossier beating Airline 42-37 and Plain Dealing getting past Parkway 23-16 in girls’ action. On the boys’ side Benton won 36-29 versus Haughton, Bossier managed a 64-51 win against Airline and Plain Dealing beat Parkway 36-29.

Both Parkway and Evangel will eventually have enough talent to be contenders for the boys’ District 1-5A title. Bossier will get a challenge from Fair Park, Woodlawn and Huntington for the District 1-4A crown.

The Southwood girls have a lot of talent returning, led by player-to-watch Jaiylan Brown, while Captain Shreve and Evangel could be in the mix for the title. The District 1-4A title will likely have to go through Bossier and Benton with player-to-watch Emily Ward.

12 Boys to Watch

Tyrese English, Bossier

K.J. Bilbo, Airline

Telvin Thomas, Woodlawn

Kameron Davis, Parkway

Brandon Rachel, Natchitoches Central

Tony Dorsey, Loyola

Malik Cooper, Evangel

LaTreavin Black, Fair Park

Cherrod Hill, North Caddo

Anthony Boston, Arcadia

Xavien Beasley, BTW

Keldrick Carper, Plain Dealing

12 Girls to Watch

Tiara Young, Evangel

Emily Ward, Benton

Jaiylan Brown, Southwood

Destiny Rice, North Caddo

Makayia Hallmon, Red River

Deborah Ford, Fair Park

Kadeesha Gay, BTW

Kierra Brimzy, Nat. Central

Dezyre Black, Captain Shreve

Dranautika Thomas, Plain Dealing

Lamonica Plater, Woodlawn

Letricia Baker, Arcadia

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