Last season, the Benton Lady Tigers made the playoffs with a team loaded with underclassmen.
So it’s no surprise that Benton coach Mary Ward is excited about her teams’ prospects for this season.
“We are looking forward to a great year,” she said. “We have a good group of young ladies and we plan on being competitive in every game.”
The 2013-14 high school basketball season starts Monday.
Madi Sessions, a 5-foot-8 junior post player, tops the list of Benton returnees. A first-team selection on The Press-Tribune’s All-Parish team, Sessions averaged 16.3 points per game last season.
Senior guard Megan Fream, a second-team All-Parish selection, also returns. She and Sessions will serve as co-captains again this season.
Other potential starters are 5-6 senior guard/forward Kylie Moore, 6-0 junior post Gabby Jackson, 5-3 sophomore guard Arleshia Carper and 5-6 sophomore guard Brandy Harris.
Ward also has a new assistant in Lyndzee McConathy, an assistant at Bossier last year.
Haughton coach Jennifer Pesnell also has an experienced team with four starters back off last season’s 17-13 Class 5A playoff team.
Returning first-team All-Parish selection Mikayla Barber, a 5-0 junior, averaged 10.5 points, 1.4 assists and 1.5 steals last season.
Other returning starters are juniors Ebone Green and Chelcy Swint. Junior Mattie McCoy could also start, Pesnell said.
“I have two other juniors and a group of sophomores that should see playing time,” Pesnell said.
Airline coach David Duhon has a good news/bad news situation.
The good news is that guard Kei McCoy is back healthy after missing most of last season because of an injury.
The bad news is that standout forward Jasmyn Carswell, a second-team All-Parish selection last season, will miss at least the first half of the season recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident.
“Kei is a key defensive player and ball handler,” Duhon said.
Duhon said that Carswell, who averaged 8.9 points and 8.6 rebounds last season, is out indefinitely, but he hopes to have her back by the Doc Edwards tournament in late December.
“Tasha Shiflett, Destiney Wesley, Katie Pilcher, and Hannah Brewster will have to pick up the rebounding load, while Shiflett, Madison Rowland and Tia Walker will be asked to score more to make up the difference,” Duhon said. “Taylor Gatson has really improved from last year when she was forced into the point guard role.”
Airline finished 11-19 last season and lost to eventual state champion Southwood in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
“We need to play great defense each night in order to be able to compete with the teams on our schedule,” Duhon said.
Parkway coach Aaron Megee said his Lady Panthers will be young this season. The Lady Panthers won only five games last season thanks in part to injuries.
“We’re currently playing a two-group rotation and trying to wear people out by running as fast as we can,” he said. “Out of the 14 kids that will dress Saturday (in the jamboree) I will have one senior (Shania Perez), two juniors (Haley Sepulvado and Kaylee Sarvis), five sophomores, and six freshmen.
“We are in the beginning stages of a youth movement. We have talented kids at our younger levels. They just aren’t varsity ready today. Hopefully they will get there soon and very soon.”
Bossier coach J.C. Dickey will have to do without the services of his top returning player. All-Parish forward Deniera McGlothan (15 ppg, 7 rpg last season), suffered a torn ACL in a recent scrimmage and is out for the season, Dickey said.
That means guard Tiffany Lynn is the lone returning starter off last year’s 15-14 playoff team. Seniors Tamona Davis and Mikayla King will start along with two sophomores.
Despite the loss of McGlothan, Dickey expects his team to be competitive.
“I think we’re going to be good — fast and athletic,” he said. “We’ve got a good little sophomore class and a couple of key juniors will help us out off the bench.”
Louisiana New Tech at Plain Dealing coach Shelia Bryant Dupree suffered a big loss with the graduation of All-State guard Dennisha Chambers, a major part of two state title teams.
Junior Deaspria Harris and eighth-graders Draunautika Thomas and Curmincia Stumon return along with sophomore Darmesha Noble from last season’s 14-9 District 1-1A championship team.