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Ferriday High senior Quavion Ellis knew opposing teams would be concentrating on stopping teammate Brandon Scott in the post.
He also knew that would allow him more opportunities to contribute.
"I worked hard during the off-season on my shooting," Ellis said.
It paid off as Ellis averaged 14.6 points a game for Ferriday, earning Boys Parish Player of the Year honors.
"Coach (K.G. Watkins) worked with me on my jump shot and I had more confidence," Ellis said.
Ferriday finished its season at 10-14, 5-5 in District 2-2A.
The Trojans ended up No. 33, one spot away from the playoffs. The Trojans finished a fraction behind No. 32 Kinder, which had 9.01 power points to Ferriday's 8.83.
"That was really tough," Ellis said. "I was really looking forward to the playoffs because we were playing our best ball at that time."
On the east side of the parish, Vidalia High boys coach Robert Sanders was shuffling lineups faster than a Las Vegas poker player early in the season because of injuries and illnesses.
Returning point guard Michael Whitley suffered a knee injury in football and missed all but two games for the basketball team.
"That was really a setback, but Isiah (Thompson) did a good job going from No. 2 guard to point guard," Sanders said. "He played that position in junior high and was really comfortable with it."
But Thompson was part of the walking wounded at one time, having been poked in the eye during a practice, missing three games, including a loss to Ferriday.
"We were worried he was going to be out the rest of the year," Sanders said.
Vidalia sat at around No. 31 and No. 32 the final couple of weeks of the basketball season in the Class 3A power rankings. The top 32 teams advance to the playoffs.
But the Vikings ended up No. 34, being passed up by Port Barre, Albany and McMain.
Vidalia finished with 9.94 points, behind Port Barre, which is in the playoffs at 32, with 10.70 points and Albany at 10.03.
Vidalia lost at Avoyelles 51-48 and lost to Caldwell by two points at home and two points at Caldwell and a controversial call and another controversial non-call had Viking coaches crying foul.
"We wanted to win all our home games and steal at least three games on the road," Sanders said. "We lost to Caldwell at home after beating them on the road. That was disappointing."
"I think the guys learned they have to go out and be committed to playing hard every play of every game," Sanders said.
Sanders benefitted from freshman Julius Wilson, who stepped up and contributed in a big way.
"We knew from the previous summer what Julius could do, but he even exceeded our expectations," he said.
Sanders had a team without a true big man for the second straight year.
"You can compete in district, but it's tough in Class 3A," he said.
Sanders, who led Vidalia to the state championship three years ago is looking forward to next season and getting back in the playoffs.
"We had four freshmen who contributed a lot," he said.
Both Thompson and Wilson join Ellis on the All-Parish Boys Team.
Thompson, a junior, averaged 11.95 points a game — 14.8 in district. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds a game - 4.0 in district and 5.0 assists.
Wilson averaged 15.05 points a game, 4.5 rebounds and three steals and rebounds a game.
Viking sophomore Deion Brown averaged 15.6 points a game and 10 rebounds.
Scott led the Trojans in rebounds with 11.3 a contest.
Monterey is represented by juniors Dillon Smith and Hayden Cassels and sophomore Kade Passman.
Passman averaged 9.6 points a game and 7.6 rebounds.
Smith averaged 12 points a gameand made 82 of 190 3-pointers (43 percent).
Cassels averaged 13.7 points a game and 5.6 rebounds.
Ferriday junior Sha'Keria Kelly has spent the last two seasons at home during the postseason.
She doesn't plan on that happening again in her final year as a Lady Trojan.
Not that Kelly didn't do all she could to get Ferriday's girls into the playoffs. The Trojans ended up less than a point behind the final spot in Class 2A at 7.27. Lakeview was No. 32 at 8.22.
Kelly averaged 17.2 points, 22.5 in district games and averaged 6.2 rebounds a game to earn Parish Girls Player of the Year honors for the second straight year.
"I think we were a better team this year because we had some girls step up and help bring the ball down the court and helped with the pressure," Kelly said. "It was disappointing not to make the playoffs. I wanted to go so bad. We tried hard to win our district."
Kelly said she has no plans to sit out next year at the end of the regular season.
"We've got some girls coming up from the junior high who should help with our rebounding," she said. "I plan on being more vocal on the court. Next year we are going to go out big."
South of Ferriday, Monterey girls basketball coach Cary Shively is a firm believer in defense.
And his Lady Wolves team this past season did not let him down.
Monterey allowed an average of 34.8 points a game, holding opponents under 22 points five times during the season.
Lady Wolf opponents averaged less than 10 points a quarter.
"This was a very strong defensive team," said Shively, who repeats as Parish Girls Coach of the Year. "They understood what we were trying to do and did that night after night. Our defense had to carru us. We had different people scoring different nights, but never got everybody scoring at the same time. And we also faced some real good defensive teams."
Monterey finished 17-8 overall and 4-5 in District 4B, lsoing to Bell City in a first-round playoff game.
The district will be different next year as Rapides, which went unbeaten in district play, and Oak Hill, which also made the playoffs, will be competing in Class 2A next year.
"I thought we played with both of those teams," Shively said.
Shively is losing four seniors from this year's team.
"They really understood what we were doing and how to do it," he said. "They did a lot of things I didn't have to coach them to do. They were fun to coach and fun to watch on the court. I'm going to miss them. But at the same time, we have a lot of young girls coming up who have been working hard and just need to gain some experience."
Joining Kelly on the all-parish team is Lady Trojan teammate Jada Griggs, a freshman who averaged 18 points and 2.1 assists.
Vidalia High is represented by juniors Fran Duson and Shermel Bell.
Duson averaged 6.7 points a game and grabbed 24 rebounds.
Bell averaged 6.7 points a game and totaled 24 rebounds.
Monterey is represented by senior forward Reagan Tiffee, senior guard Kaley Baker and senior forward Kristin Russell.
Tiffee led the Lady Wolves with 8.8 points a game. She also averaged 3.9 rebounds a contest.
Baker averaged 7.1 points and 3.8 assists. She also led Monterey with 3.5 steals.
Russell led Monterey with 5.95 rebounds a game and averaged 6.3 points.
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