Patterson's Elijah Williams
(The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Lumberjacks have overcome adversity this season
The Patterson Lumberjacks ended last season knowing they would have to replace one senior, Kamiah Jones, heading into the 2018-19 season.
However, during the offseason, the squad suffered two other key losses as senior-to-be point guard Drew Lucas transferred to Ellender Memorial and senior center R.J. Talver suffered an injury on the football field that left the squad needing to fill voids at those two positions.
Lucas, a second-team All-District 8-3A selection a year ago, had played since his freshman season and had started since he was a sophomore.
Losing Talver was a big loss for the team, too, Patterson Coach Ryan Taylor said.
“Not only (were) you losing somebody who’s athletic and plays defense and rebounds real well, (but) in all our little set plays we ran for the post guys against zones were for him,” Taylor said of Talver.
Patterson has worked its way through the personnel losses and currently is 9-7 overall and 3-1 in District 8-3A this season.
However, the squad still is trying to gel with younger players filling in those roles.
While he hasn’t been able to play this year, Taylor last week lauded Talver, who he said hasn’t missed one practice despite his injury. He said he was proud of how Talver has handled the adversity and has been a huge leader for the team.
Although Patterson has had to replace Talver and Lucas, they do return some firepower this year, including the district’s reining Most Valuable Player, junior Kai Schexnayder, and junior Tyrone Tillman, who was a second-team all-district selection a year ago.
While Taylor said he thought the team’s record could be better, he said that his team’s schedule also is tougher, specifically, their matchups in tournaments.
So far, Patterson has faced Thibodaux (Class 5A’s No. 1 team), Westgate (Class 4A’s No. 5 team), Tioga (Class 4A’s No. 10 team), Peabody (Class 3A’s top-ranked team and defending state runner-up).
“I think we’re progressing to where I would like to be,” Taylor said. “We’re still make a few mistakes that are uncharacteristic of a team that has the experience that we have. I think we need to correct that in this homestretch of the season in order for us to reach our goals that we want to achieve.”
However, Taylor said he is happy some of the younger guys that are playing for Patterson.
This year’s starting lineup features junior point guard Elijah Williams and at off-guards, Schexnayder and senior Dajon Richard.
In the post, the team will look to Tillman and sophomore Louis Jones.
The team’s sixth man is senior James Butler, who offers a versatile option for the team.
Patterson’s post players coming off the bench are Tron Clark, Irvin Celestine and Harden, all seniors, and junior James Gash.
Other guards coming off the bench are freshmen Kyler Paul and Dillon Gunner, sophomore Randan Paul and senior Telvae Phillips.
In all, Patterson has six seniors this year, but Taylor said the team still does feature some youth.
In the past, the Lumberjacks have been able to overcome their youth and still experience success.
The Patterson coaching staff has expressed to the players the program’s tradition and how there are certain expectations for the players and each year, they need to keep that tradition going.
While Patterson has won eight straight district titles, Taylor said winning a ninth one will be though this year. He said while in other years where there were one or two teams that they would have to contend with for a league title, this year, there are five teams that can dash the Lumberjacks’ title hopes.
“It’s a challenge, which is a good thing,” Taylor said, explaining that the schedule prepares his team for the playoffs and that the tough competition means they have to constantly be improving.
Among the top teams is district are Abbeville, which is ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, while David Thibodaux is ranked No. 6 in Division II. David Thibodaux defeated Patterson on the road for the Lumberjacks’ lone district loss.
Other teams in Patterson’s district are North Vermilion, Kaplan, Berwick and Erath.