Rams open title defense with youthful squad

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / December 2, 2000

EDGARD – The banner is not hard to notice as you walk into the West St. Johngym.

It hangs on the far wall, just right of the stage with the words – “Boys Basketball – 2A State Champions 2000.”But the 2000-01 version of the Rams know that other teams will be quick to notice that banner as well.

“A lot of teams are going to want to play us hard being that we are the defending state champions,” senior center Dwayne Bastain, the only returning starter from that team said.

West St. John achieved that distinction by defeating Coushatta, 84-71, inthe Class 2A finals. The championship was the first in the Rams’ history.West St. John finished the season with an overall record of 24-4 and won theDistrict 9-2A championship with a 11-1 record.

But the bulk of that team is gone now. Seniors Donriel Louis, Marlon Jackson,Jeremy Lumar, Brian Lumar, Carl Gauthier and Tremaine Nathan accounted for 64 points per game in 1999-2000. In addition, forward Amone Lumar,who averaged 8.2 points per game last year, broke his leg during football thisseason and is questionable for the season. Of the 13 players on the statechampionship team, only six return as the season starts.

Don’t count the Rams out this season, however. A number of the returningplayers did get to see playing time last year, whether on the varsity or on the junior varsity. And what the overall group lacks in game experience, itmakes up in hustle and dedication.

Bastain opens the season at center after averaging 10 points per game in 1999-2000. Bastain has been playing for five years and has been with theRams for three years.

“I think I can bring a positive attitude to the team,” Bastain said. “Theyounger guys can look up to me and see how I practice and play and they can play better.”Having made the trip to the Top 28 in the Cajundome in Lafayette, Bastain can also show the younger players what it takes there.

“A lot of defense and hard work in practice,” Bastain said. “A lot ofconditioning. Coming out to practice and working hard every day.”Sophomore Lionel Howard will be at forward while senior Davin Farnell will play the forward/guard spot. Senior Kermit Bethancourt and junior Devin Herbertwill be at the guards. Players coming off the bench include seniors Coy Millerand Randy Hilare and freshmen Aaron Sylvain.

“We have a few kids who need to step up and play,” head coach Antoine Edwards said.

The test comes early in non-district. The Rams opened defense of their titlelast night at home against Phoenix. Tuesday night, West St. John plays hostto Port Sulphur. A week later, Reserve Christian, which also advanced to theTop 28 last season, comes calling.

Then comes rival and defending Class 3A state champion St. James Dec. 15.The Rams also travel to St. James Dec. 21 and could also play the Wildcats inthe Riverside Tournament.

“I think pre-district will be very competitive,” Edwards said.

District 9-2A play is not any easier with Newman expected to be in the hunt to dethrone the Rams along with Riverside and Redeemer-Seton.

“The key is we’re quick enough to play with a lot of people,” Edwards said.

“We have some size to match up with some people. We have a lot ofconfidence. You can see how the championship brings it out in the kids. Theywant to step it up. We’re going to be pretty decent and contend with a lot ofpeople.”And Edwards knows those other teams will be bringing their ‘A’ games every time they face the Rams.

“All the other teams will be zeroing in on us,” Edwards said. “We have tostep it up Tuesday through Friday nights.”

Return To Sports Stories

Copyright © #Thisyear# Wick Communications, Inc.Best viewed with 4.0 or higher