Tigers’ season off to promising start
By: SCOTT JOINER
The Morgan City boys’ basketball team is likely seen around the area as a rebuilding program with the loss of four starters, including a 6-foot-10 post player, Shawn Long, now at Mississippi State.
The starting five aren’t quite as intimidating this season, but the Tigers are off to a promising 6-3 start and pushed No. 5 ranked Plaquemine to triple overtime last week in a loss.
MCHS will have to make up for its lack of a dominant scorer this season with hard work and dedication on defense.
“I don’t question a bit their heart and desire, whether they will play hard,” MCHS coach Jeremy Whittington said. “They’re going to play as hard as they can for me.”
Junior Jalen Johnson is the only returning starter and he’s just getting into basketball shape after being sidelined with an ankle injury suffered during football season.
“I think last year he was our most improved player and was a role player, but he averaged the third highest total on our team,” Whittington said. “He’s still catching up back to normal speed, you can tell, he’s trying to explode off of that (ankle). If he gets to that point in the next couple weeks, with him and Tyrin, that’s a double threat with Jaylen shooting from the outside.”
With Johnson running the point and junior post Tyrin Watts coming into his own as a rebounder and inside scorer, the Tigers look like a team capable of making the playoff field in March.
Freshman Jaylen Jones has made an impact early on this season with several big shots and a hard-nosed approach on defense that has left Whittington impressed.
“He’s a good shooter, he’s always been one of the best players on the teams he’s played for at whatever age it has been,” Whittington said. “He’s got that killer instinct and can do things and he’s still learning. … Not only that but his defense as a freshman is outstanding right now. He wants to be a part of that team defense.”
Against Plaquemine on Friday, the Tigers had trouble blocking out and ended up on the losing end due to crucial rebounds going to Plaquemine.
Watts has been the most active rebounder, but the Tigers will need to find a few more rebounders to compete with the big posts looming on the district schedule.
So far, Vandebilt Catholic (8-3), Ellender (7-3) and MCHS look like the top teams in District 8-4A but Whittington isn’t counting out Assumption (2-5) and South Terrebonne (2-5).
“Assumption usually starts off pretty rough, but they have a lot kids that play football,” Whittington said. “South Terrebonne, they’re just getting kids back from football and into shape too, so I won’t put anything into (early power rankings). Either of them could be at the top of the district or the end, it just depends on how they play.”
The Tigers open district play on Jan. 13 at home against Ellender.