In a season of firsts, ranking the top five sports stories in the parish for 2011 was not easy. Still, what follows are five of the most compelling developments in the area last year.
1. Abbeville’s Wildcats basketball team makes first trip to LHSAA final – The Abbeville Wildcats had been fielding a basketball team for more than 60 years without ever reaching the pinnacle of the sport: a championship game.
But, there they were in March of 2011, playing at the CajunDome in Lafayette with the opportunity to bring home the school’s first-ever boys’ state title. The only thing that stood in the way was the team from Carroll High School.
The Wildcats held a lead throughout most of the game, and at the fourth quarter held a 40-28 lead. With a championship tantalizingly close, Abbeville gave up 31 points to Carroll in the final period, while scoring just nine to lose 59-49. Still, no other team in the future of the school will ever be able to claim that it is the first to play for the ultimate goal.
J.J. Davenport scored 18 points for the Wildcats against Carroll, with 10 rebounds. Current AHS senior Tiremone Williams scored 12 points with four rebounds, Delontra Williams had nine points and Alonzo Williams had three points and nine rebounds.
2. Barrett Nugent wins an NCAA national title – In the category of “Local Boy Does Good”, few stories could top former North Vermilion and current LSU track ace Barrett Nugent’s 110 meter hurdles national title victory at the 2011 NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Nugent, who had been the runner up in the 2010 event with an LSU record 13.49 wind-legal time in the 110 m hurdles, defeated then-defending champion Andrew Riley, of Illinois, to take home the title. It was LSU’s first 110 m title in 25 years. Nugent holds the Vermilion Parish record in the 100 meter hurdles and the LHSAA composite record for the 300 meter hurdles. He is now a senior at LSU, and so has an opportunity to do the unthinkable: repeat as national champion.
3. Tina Roy named Miss Basketball –
When you’re one of the best at what you do, you are bound to draw attention and accolades, and Kaplan High graduate and current South Carolina University freshman Tina Roy certainly fits that bill.
When Roy was named the LSWA’s Farm Bureau Miss Basketball, her bucket list of prep sports awards was complete. In 2011, Roy averaged 31.3 points, 20 rebounds and five assists per game, earning her a third 3A All-State selection and second All-State MVP. She was also the All-Star MVP in her senior year, one in which the Lady Pirates made it to the quarter finals of the state playoffs. She ended her career at Kaplan with 2,646 points and 1,941 rebounds, both school records. She is a four-time district and parish MVP.
With her new team at South Carolina, Roy is averaging 13 minutes, five points and two rebounds per game. She is shooting .303 from the field, .245 on three pointers.
4. VC Eagles play semifinal playoff game – No local sports story this season was as surprising or as fun a ride as the VC Eagles’ nearly undefeated season and semifinal berth in the 2011 LHSAA football playoffs.
The Eagles defense was stingy and the offense simply electric, a combination which brought the parish its first-ever football semifinal playoff home game. VC was the owner of a 13-0 record when West St. John came to town, and the Eagles had a one-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter, looking for their second trip to Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in a decade. However, it was not meant to be, as as West St. John came back to win 54-41 in a true thriller.
The Eagles featured an All-State MVP in running back Jacoby Davis in 2011, as well as one All-State Coach of the Year in first-year head coach Trev Faulk. Davis shared 8-3A All-District and All-Parish MVP status with his teammate and fellow All-State first-teamer, quarterback Aaron David. The Eagles also boasted an All-State and All-Parish receiver in Ryan David and defensive back in Mark LaPorte, who was also the All-Parish defensive MVP.
5. Bobcats win first home playoff game – The Erath Bobcats’ 2011 baseball team accomplished something that the town of Erath had never had the opportunity to witness: a home playoff game.
The boys in blue gave the packed house at their new baseball field something more, a first-ever Erath playoff victory, when they defeated the Loyola College Prep Flyers 12-3 to advance to the regional round. Erath came back from a 3-1 deficit in the bottom of the fourth inning when 2011 All-Parish baseball MVP Rynn Touchet and Cole Bourque (the 2011 state 400 meter dash track champion) scored on two-time Parish male MVP Josh Pillette’s stinging shot to left field to tie the game. The Bobcats scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth en route to victory.
Though they lost on the road to E.D. White in Thibodaux in the regional round of the playoffs, the 2011 Bobcats baseball team gave their town a thrill, made some lifelong memories for themselves and, like all of the teams and players on this too-short list, left the athletes that will follow them some big shoes to fill.