Area athletes shine in SJA tournament

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003


LAPLACE – The seventh annual Viking Classic basketball tournament kicked off Thursday evening at St. Joan of Arc School.

The tournament consists of middle school girls and boys basketball teams around south Louisiana.

The first two games of the tournament featured local girls teams in action. Ascension of Our Lord School battled Riverside, while Garyville Middle School took on Chalmette Middle School.

With the cheerleaders in full swing and parents applauding loudly for the kids, a middle school game had a big game-type atmosphere. There was nothing short of excitement in the opening game between AOL and RA.

Trailing 15-6 entering the final quarter, Riverside began to mount a comeback. Six consecutive points quickly cut the lead to 15-12 with about two minutes remaining in the game.

RA Lady Rebels forward Kailyn Ferguson hit a jumper to put the outcome in question. About one minute later, Ferguson nailed another basket making the score 17-14 AOL.

However, Crusaders guard Emily Gurdian went to the foul line, missed the front end of a one and one, but got her own rebound and scored to make the final score 19-14.

The second game between Chalmette and Garyville was not near as compelling as the opening game. From the opening tip, Chalmette took off and never looked back.

The Chalmette Vikings went on a 10-2 run to open up the game. Six of the first 10 points were scored by Brittany Dominique.

Another six-consecutive points, this time from Lacey Wagner, broke the game wide open and made the score 16-2 CMS. Probably the lone bright spot for Garyville was Lathea Midkol, who finished with four points.

Dana Martin’s basket with about 30 seconds left to play made the final score 27-12 Chalmette.

However, fans and parents afterward said these games go far beyond wins and losses.

“I think this gives the girls something to do. It keeps them off the streets and does not subject them to the temptations out there,” said Thomas Fernandez.

Fernandez’s son Glen is the coach of the Riverside team.

“Any team sport teaches them about team effort, not just about an individual,” Thomas Fernandez said.

Daphine Newman of LaPlace said she is behind her daughter Melissa, 13, 100 percent all the time.

“I support whatever she does. I can see her getting better at this all the time,” Daphine Newman said.

Newman said her daughter started playing basketball this year and said she got interested in playing basketball while playing one on one with her older brother David.

Tina Neal, whose son Brandon plays for Garyville, would like to see more parental involvement in these types of events.

“My son would miss me if I wasn’t here. I think people need to realize that having at least one parent at these games makes a difference,” Neal said.