Sterlington Panthers Basketball Preview

Moving into Class 3A with only one returning starter, the Sterlington Panthers are in the midst of an overhaul.

"Of the guys that played tonight, Kyle Henderson started as a freshman and Kaden Key got some valuable minutes last year after returning from an injury," Sterlington coach Cory Emerson said following Monday night's scrimmage against Bastrop. "Other than that, most of these guys didn't even dress with the varsity. We have a lot of new guys, and we are trying to get them some experience."

Sterlington qualified for the Class 2A playoff bracket as a No. 16 seed last season, defeating Doyle 66-45 in the first round and losing to No. 1 seed Madison Prep 94-41 in the second round. Madison Prep went on to edge District 2-2A champion Rayville 65-61 in the state championship game.

Missing from last year's 22-13 team are starters Jaylon Naron, a first-team All-District guard who has remained with the team as an assistant coach, Semaj Colvin, Zach Pittman and reserves Kylan King and Mitchell Bush.

Another starter, C.J. Colvin, is recovering from a broken ankle.

"C.J. had a second surgery to remove the plate," Emerson said. "We are preparing as if he will be out for the season."

In Henderson and Key, the Panthers have two point guards on the floor at once.

"We have two guys that are natural point guards, but who are also two of our best players," Emerson said. "We are trying to incorporate some plays where you can use two point guards. Kyle is, by far, our most experienced player. We are looking for different ways to get the ball in his hands. We have some sets to use Kyle off screens for shots or for him to get it on the floor and drive it."

Sophomore Michael Givens and Trea Green are projected to split time at the 3 guard, with sophomore Chance Carter and freshman Keagan Moncrief in the paint.

Juniors Justin Fuller and Colby Rivera will bring some much-needed bulk inside upon reporting from football.

"We are one of the fastest growing schools in the state, but the height has not made it here yet," Emerson said.

Peter Lohasirikul, an exchange student from Thailand, could eventually contribute at the wing.

"Peter will help us this year," Emerson predicted. "First, he has to get adjusted to the American game. He is athletic, quick and tough."

Green, Lohasirikul and Anthony Smith are the Panthers' only seniors.

Others competing for playing time are sophomores Ali Abdullah and Bryce Holton and freshmen Ashton Stallings, Cody Goodman, Caleb Medlin and Mario Silas.

Along with Fuller and Givens, Smith and Reid Handy will report after football season.

"Reid is probably our best shooter," Emerson said.

Sterlington's new district is a booger as the Panthers join perennial powers Carroll, Madison Parish, Richwood, Union Parish and Wossman in 2-3A.

"District 2-3A is arguably the toughest district in the state, you could say in any classification," said Emerson, who coached in the district at Caldwell before accepting his current position two years ago. "Madison Parish finished last among the returning teams last year, and made the Top 28.

"Two factors that concern me the most about moving into 2-3A are turnovers and offensive rebounds."

Sterlington will scrimmage at Neville on Monday before hosting Oak Grove and Ouachita Christian in jamboree action on Tuesday. Originally scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9, the jamboree has been moved up two days.

STERLINGTON JAMBOREE SCHEDULE

Tuesday

OCS vs. Sterlington (JVG), 5 p.m.

Oak Grove vs. Sterlington (VB)

Oak Grove vs. OCS (VB)

Sterlington vs. OCS (VG)

OCS vs. Sterlington (VB)