4 locals make All-State

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013



LAPLACE – The release of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A and 2A All-State basketball teams captured just how special a  hoops season it was in St. John the Baptist Parish, as four St. John players earned spots – and two of them MVP.

Riverside’s Von Julien and West St. John’s Jaylyn Gordon were named the Outstanding Player of the Class 2A boys and the Class 1A girls respectively, those honors going with spots on the All-State first team.

West St. John’s Maya Trench was named to the Class 1A girls second team, giving the Lady Rams a second All-State representative.

Kendra Turner, meanwhile, was Riverside’s second representative, earning second team status for Class 2A girls.

Riverside’s Malik Crowfield, Herb McGee and Jordan Andrews all earned honorable mention status for the Class 2A boys. Riverside’s Kelsey Joseph was named honorable mention for the 2A girls team.

Julien earns Outstanding Player honors in just his sophomore season at Riverside. The Rebels point guard averaged 14 points. 8.1 assists, 4.3 steals and 4.1 rebounds per game en route to helping lead his team to the Class 2A state championship.

“It’s a great feeling and honor,” said Julien. “Just to know that I’m one of the youngest to be nominated and selected for it … it’s great to know people took notice of how I played and what we did this year.”

Perhaps the most  important thing Julien was able to do relative to his peers was take care of the basketball while remaining a playmaker. He averaged under two turnovers a game and posted a 4-1 assist to turnover ratio in just his first season as a starter.

“I was able to drive and kick to shooters all over the court,” said Julien. “And throw the pass knowing they were going to catch it without turning it over.”

Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said that Julien had several stages to shine for the LSWA voters, including the Sugar Bowl tournament – which Julien was named MVP of – the Top 28 tournament, and four high-profile games against defending champion John Curtis – of which the Rebels won three.

“I’m not surprised. He’s the engine that makes us go,” said Byrd. “He was probably our most consistent player this year. He did a phenomenal job getting it to the right guy at the right time all season long.”

Byrd said that Julien’s ability to take care of the ball was something he noted early on.

“Midway through December, he just had very, very few turnovers,” said Byrd. “As much as he handled the ball … that was impressive and a big reason why we were so successful. He’s got such a high basketball IQ.”

Basketball IQ is also something Gordon boasts a great deal of. West St. John coach Lester Smith loves to talk about his star shooting guard’s knowledge and natural feel for the game.

“Every year, she comes in and improves her game. She adds something,” said Smith. “She’d have been my choice as the Outstanding Player, and not just because she played for me. She’s a great all-around player.”

Gordon averaged 22.3 points per game this season for West St. John. She led the Rams to back-to-back Top 28 tournaments – the school’s first appearances ever – and a state runner-up finish this season. West St. John went 31-2 on the year.

At the Top 28, the senior Louisiana-Lafayette signee averaged 31 points per game over the semifinals and finals. She hit 10 of her 19 3-point attempts at the tourney.  

“I’m grateful,” Gordon said of the honor. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Gordon said that she tried to lead her team primarily in two ways: by the example she set with her work ethic in preparation, and then by keeping things light on game night.

“Every time a big game came up, I just told everybody to go out there and have fun,” she said. “Don’t overthink it or stress, because if you do that you aren’t going to play well. When you have fun, you’ll play a good game.”

Gordon is the first West St. John player to ever win Outstanding Player honors.

“It’s a milestone for her and for our school,” said Smith. “It’s a tribute to the hard work she’s put in throughout her entire career, whether it was playing AAU ball in the offseason, putting in time in our offseason program, working out on her own. She never stopped looking to mold herself into an even better player.”

It’s Gordon’s third straight season on the All-State squad.

Trench, meanwhile, averaged 14.9 points per game as the Rams’ point guard and earns the second team nod as just a freshman.

She has started for two seasons at the point, helping guide the Rams to the Top 28 in both seasons. That makes her one of the state’s most experienced guards at a very young age.

“She always finds the ball,” said Smith. “She’s got a nose for it. She’s a strong scorer, but she’s also constantly setting people up through the assists, getting steals and finding the loose ball. She played really well for us this season.”

Turner was looked at as the missing piece for Riverside this season in their attempt to break through to another level as a program, and the 6-foot-2 center was exactly that.

The junior averaged 16.9 points per game and helped the Lady Rebels earn just their second playoff victory ever this season.

In that game, Turner put forth perhaps her most impressive effort of the season, racking up a triple-double with 26 points, 21 rebounds and 10 blocks.

“She was a difference maker,” said Riverside coach Kristy Hebert. “She was the big person inside that we were missing. She made us a complete team, putting her alongside our guards. She was our leading scorer and leading rebounder, so it was easy to see her total impact this year.”