Carver Basketball and McGehee Track honored as New Orleans’ top prep teams
Allstate Sugar Bowl Recognizes State Champs in a Pair of Sports
NEW ORLEANS – The Carver boys’ basketball team, which won its second straight state championship, and the McGehee girls’ track and field team, which captured its first state title, have been selected as the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Outstanding Prep Teams from the Greater New Orleans area for 2022-23.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories; it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year’s Hall of Fame class. Overall, 24 individuals and three teams will be honored for their 2022-23 achievements at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Awards Banquet on August 5. Honorees are currently being announced over a two-week period, wrapping up with the Corbett Awards for the top male and female amateur athletes in the state on Friday, July 28.
George Washington Carver advanced to its third straight LHSAA Division II basketball state championship game and won its second straight title in 2023. This year’s team entered the postseason as the No. 6 seed and then took down No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 to win the championship. The Rams’ semifinal win came against No. 2 Peabody, a nine-time state champion, and in the championship, it took down No. 1 Madison Prep – a program that has won eight state titles in the past 10 years. The Rams won their second straight title despite graduating three Division I players from last year. The stars this time included senior Jaylon Hicks, who made the winning basket with little time remaining in the semifinal, and junior Laurence Nathan, the other returning starter from the championship team last season. Daijon Leatherman, a 6-9 sophomore, had 21 points, 32 rebounds and nine blocked shots in the semifinals and finals.
“I just want to keep on building,” Carver coach Nate Roche said after his team’s 34-25 championship victory against Madison Prep. “I want to keep on growing as a coach. I want to keep impacting the community in Louisiana and New Orleans and keep producing athletes that can compete at a high level.”
Not known as a power player in track and field, The Louise McGehee School won its first LHSAA Class 1A Outdoor Track & Field State championship. Junior Kali Magana won three individual races, setting personal records in the 100 and the 200, while also winning the 800 and anchoring the winning 4×200 relay team. Nadia Jones, who was part of the 4×200 team, added a memorable moment of her own when she came from 40-plus meters back on her anchor leg to help McGehee capture the 4×400 relay title as well. The Hawks also excelled in the indoor season, earning a fourth-place finish despite limited roster numbers.
“We knew what we had going into outdoor season,” head coach Rob Pearson said. “We’ve always had great work-ethic among the girls, but we’ve been adding a lot of talent too. We knew if we could get people to reach their potential that we had a shot [at the championship].”
Prior to 2023, McGehee’s track success had been primarily limited to a district title in 2016 and some individual success stories. And Pearson is confident things can continue.
“McGehee also won [a state title] in tennis; we’re showing we can become a destination for athletics.”
In addition to the committee-selected award-winners, a fan vote was conducted for the first time. The fans’ choice for the New Orleans Prep Teams of the Year were Ponchatoula Boys’ Basketball and Lutcher Girls’ Powerlifting. Ponchatoula capped a historic season with a 63-48 win over No. 1 New Iberia in the LHSAA Division I nonselect championship in New Iberia – the Green Wave were making their first-ever appearance in a state championship game after qualifying for their first state tournament appearance since 1970. Lutcher claimed its 16th straight state title by winning the Division II championship – the Bulldogs scored 68 points, more than twice the total of the runner-up Grant.
The other finalists for the New Orleans’ Boys’ Prep Team of the Year honor were Archbishop Shaw Wrestling and Jesuit Cross Country. Shaw won its first LHSAA wrestling championship as it captured the Division III championship with 215.5 points to edge four-time reigning state champ Basile by 1.5 points. Jesuit won the Louisiana Division I state championship with a perfect score of 15 points (meaning the Blue Jays had the top five finishers in the race) – it was the first perfect score in state history in the largest classification.
Joining McGehee and Lutcher as finalists for the New Orleans’ Girls’ Prep Team of the Year were Country Day Volleyball and St. Scholastica Swimming. Country Day earned its seventh straight state volleyball championship as senior star Ellie Schneider finished with a season-high 28 kills in the championship victory over No. 2 seed Westminster Christian. St. Scholastica won the LHSAA Division II state championship as the Doves scored 409 points to finish well ahead of second-place St. Thomas More’s 263 points to earn their 12th state title in a row.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl will continue announcing its annual awards tomorrow (Friday) with the release of its Outstanding College Coach for Louisiana.
Outstanding Collegiate Coach, Louisiana: July 21 (Friday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 24 (Monday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 25 (Tuesday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 26 (Wednesday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 27 (Thursday)
Corbett Award – Female: July 28 (Friday)
Corbett Award – Male: July 28 (Friday)
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee came together when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month and a variety of annual award winners. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month as well as a range of annual awards – the honors enter their 67th year in 2023.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 102 Hall of Fame players, 52 Hall of Fame coaches and 21 Heisman Trophy winners in its 89-year history. The 90th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2024. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting nearly $2.4 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.
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