RA’s Gathers named MVP

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011



Only a year removed from the school’s first-ever state basketball crown, Riverside decided that it was a feeling so nice, they’d do it twice.

The Rebels went 33-6, toppled a team ranked top five nationally finished as the runner-up of New Orleans’ first true national basketball tournament and then, again, ran roughshod through the Class 2A postseason en route to a second consecutive state championship.

So there should be little surprise that three Rebels have been selected to L’Observateur’s All-St. John Parish team — including its Most Valuable Player.

Ricardo Gathers’ trophy case would seemingly have to be a bottomless pit to hold all of the honors he’s accrued since the season’s outset. Gathers was named the MVP of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic tournament, the MVP of the Class 2A championship game, the MVP of Class 2A, the Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year, Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball, and now L’Observateur’s St. John Parish MVP.

Gathers earns the honor after a dominating season in which he averaged over 20 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, four blocks and a steal per game.

The 6-foot-8-inch, 240 pound forward impacted just about every possession he was on the court for in a given game and became even more of a terror for foes as the year went on as he adjusted to playing on the wing, a facet he added this season after primarily being a post player in his first two.

“He’s come a long way with his ball-handling and patience,” said Riverside coach Timmy Byrd. “At the defensive end, he’s playing much smarter. He knows how to avoid foul trouble.”

Byrd said that the best word to describe Gathers is simply “dominant,” noting that for a player to receive the accolades he has as a junior, a dominant performance over a season is necessary.

“Mr. Basketball, the awards that writers vote on, they usually go to a senior,” said Byrd. “And it’s understandable. But everyone knew Ricardo this year, from being named MVP at the top 28 twice … and he got even more attention when he played so well at the Sugar Bowl tournament at the Pontchartrain Center. He really dominated there and a lot of writers saw that.”

He is joined on the team by teammates Louis Dabney and Donald Thomas, both juniors. Dabney stepped forward this season as Riverside’s primary perimeter scorer and playmaker and put up a strong all-around statistical line of 17.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.1 steals. Thomas missed time early due to injury but didn’t miss a beat upon his return, averaging 13 points, six rebounds and 4.7 steals while continuing his sharpshooting ways from the outside.

East St. John teammates Joseph Williams and Elex Carter helped lead the Wildcats to an undefeated District 6-5A championship and now represent ESJ on the All-Parish team. Williams was the Wildcats’ go-to guy offensively, averaging over 15 points. The lefthanded guard was equally adept at scoring in the lane and from the outside. Carter, meanwhile, defended the lane with a vengeance, blocking 6.1 shots a night and allowing the Wildcats’ to pressure opposing teams at will.

St. Charles is represented on the team by forward John Williams, who led the Comets in scoring at 16 points per game. Williams is another player who rounded into a more complete force this season, expanding his game from the perimeter to the block. He led the Comets to an improved record this season and to the cusp of the postseason.

After a very slow start, West St. John made a late push to the postseason before falling short. That late drive came with the aid of Jalen Adams, the team’s junior forward who led the Rams in scoring and raised his game late in the year. West St. John found itself in a district with three teams ranked within the top seven of Class 1A throughout the season and finished 6-6 in district play, including a number of near upsets. Adams averaged 12 points a night as the team’s top shooter.