West St. John returns young team to basketball court

Published 1:05 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2022

EDGARD — The freshmen-laden West St. John boys’ basketball team is expected to have a solid season under the leadership of head coach Kwame Smith and assistant coach Courtney Evans. This year’s varsity will be comprised of about eight to 10 young athletes, including five returners and a handful of newcomers.

“This is pretty much a team that I had last year. We were about a .500 team. We’re going to be heavy on the ninth grade, but with some consistency from last year, we should be better prepared,” Smith said. “With some of the kids who are new to the system, we can build this year, and we should have a decent season.”

The Rams rolled into action last Friday with a scrimmage against Joseph S. Carr Leadership Academy. The fun really starts this week with a Nov. 10 jamboree at Plaquemine High School, followed by a home game against Vandebilt Catholic on Nov. 15.

“I think some of the biggest challenges on the schedule will be those rivalry type games against Riverside and Lutcher,” Smith said. “I believe those big home games build character within the kids. Once we get into the district, I believe we are pretty much equally paired up with everyone as long as we do what we do best and hopefully beat them by enough points. St. Martin’s is the team to beat.”

According to Smith, senior Dekalen Stipe is one player everyone is keeping an eye on. Last season, Stipe led the Rams in scoring with nearly 20 points per game. Smith looks for him to be equally effective this year on both the offensive and defensive ends.

Up-and-coming junior Christian Milton is another returning veteran who will lead the young team.

As the season gets underway, Smith plans to hone in on defense.

“We have to do better there than we did last year,” Smith said. “Offensively, we average somewhere around 40 points per game. If we can hold a team to 40, it gives us a chance. We’re not big in the middle, but if we can play great defense as a team and really be more disciplined on the offense end, we should do well.”

Smith encourages the Edgard community to come out and support the kids.

“We’re here to provide the community with something to feel good about and highlight their children. It’s something people should want to see and be proud of,” he said.