Basketball: Strong field for Sunkist Shootout set despite pandemic
The year of 2020 has brought many changes to the sports scene due to COVID-19, starting in the spring with LHSAA basketball finals in March for the boys being played with no fans in attendance.
Fast forward nine months, and fans are allowed into events but the pandemic has brought about the cancellation of some tournaments during the 2020-2021 basketball season. Two of the biggest 0 the Newman Invitational tournament and the CYO Tournament in New Orleans – are very significant losses.
Christmas week usually brings several tournaments in South Louisiana, and one of the biggest ones will go forward with a full slate. The Sunkist Shootout hosted by St. Thomas More in Lafayette runs Saturday through Wednesday with an off day on Monday due to the STM football team’s state title game tilt versus De La Salle in Natchitoches.
Cougars coach Danny Broussard has had at least six teams that were originally schedule to play in the event back out due to COVID-19 and two others due to scheduling conflicts including one squad backing out on Christmas Day.
“It has been a daily challenge to get the tournament complete for this year with the cancellations and our football team playing for the title,” Broussard explained. “With the tournament starting on Saturday and due to us having to break on Monday because of football, we had to get permission from Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel to play on Sunday.”
Familiar faces from Broussard’s coaching career will bring teams to the Sunkist.
“I have four of my proteges playing – Eric Mouton of Ascension Episcopal, Brad Boyd of Southside, Jason Fatheree of Episcopal School of Acadiana and Jean-Paul Boullion at Sacred Heart-Ville Platte. We have a lot of the local Acadiana teams playing as usual including LCA plus a few between here and New Orleans.”
Riverside Academy and Family Christian from Baton Rouge are among the schools to trek west for the tournament. Madison-Ridgeland Academy from Jackson, Mississippi returns again this year as well.
Episcopal of Acadiana (10-6) opens the tournament and brings a 56-40 win over Ascension Episcopal on their resume, and they will face Ville Platte (8-2), 2020 state quarterfinalists, who have a 45-42 win over Lafayette Christian to their credit.
Game two features Ascension Episcopal (3-6) and Southside (3-3), followed by a much improved Teurlings Catholic (8-2) facing Family Christian (13-3), winners previously over Lafayette Christian, 62-61, and Brusly, 65-63.
Ellender (7-0), which has a win over LB Landry, 62-52, takes on Jeanerette (2-5) in game four followed by Timmy Byrd’s Riverside Rebels (2-1) against Assumption (3-4).
Lafayette Christian (4-5) battles HL Bourgeois (4-7) before the host STM Cougars (6-4), defending Division II Champions plays Sacred Heart Ville Platte (5-5).
The nightcap features Varnado (1-1) and Madison-Ridgeland Academy (9-1).
In addition to the Sunkist, there are a few other holiday tournaments in the Lafayette area. St. Martinville hosts one and the Yuletide Classic at Vermillion Catholic has had split weeks this year as the boys played last week and the girls this week.
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Randy Pistorius is a lifelong resident of South Louisiana and is currently working in the communications field in the Baton Rouge Metropolitian Area. Randy’s start in journalism came while still in high school at De La Salle in New Orleans and that carried with him to Southeastern Louisiana University where he wrote for the Lions Roar and also worked in…