LCO girls give us glimpse into the future

Ricky James Pellegrin
December 17, 2013
Anna Marie Reed
December 26, 2013
Ricky James Pellegrin
December 17, 2013
Anna Marie Reed
December 26, 2013

There is a storm brewing in the water along the southern banks of Bayou Lafourche.

As this squall develops and materializes in the coming years, that entire area will likely be flooded with girls’ basketball prowess.

This week, I was blessed to spend time with the Larose-Cut Off Middle School girls’ basketball program – a team that is undefeated so far in their early season play.

The team’s success has caught the eye of so many people across the area that the Lady Bulldogs have been asked to compete in an elite, multi-state middle school tournament in Ruston that will showcase some of the best teams in the surrounding areas.

As someone from that neck of the woods, the LCO success is a source of pride for me – I’ve watched a lot of these girls grow up.

But I’m here today to let everyone know that even with my being a homer put to the side, these kids can ball.

And with that said, the future is bright for South Lafourche Lady Tarpons basketball.

Very rarely do I get out to junior high and middle school competition.

There are just too many high schools locally. To get involved deeply with middle school competition would take just a great portion of time that I don’t have.

But in my 30 or so minutes watching LCO practice, I didn’t feel like I was watching a lesser competition level than what I was used to seeing. Honestly, I felt like I was in a high school gym – I even told the coaches as much as practice was completed.

Neither seemed surprised.

“These are an amazing group of kids,” Lady Bulldogs coach Celeste Breaux said. “Nothing that they do really surprises us anymore.”

The reason for the coach’s statement became apparent from the early minutes of my stay.

The Lady Bulldogs are fast. Even in a practice described as a “rest day,” the ladies got up and down the court with pace and tempo.

But aside from the speed, the youngsters have mad skills, too.

Point guard Traya Bruce is so blessed. For a player her age to be able to do the things that she does on the floor – it’s remarkable to see.

Bruce can get into the paint with ease. Once there, she possesses the vision to either pass to open teammates or score. Bruce has something that’s rare for a young female player. She possesses touch around the goal, which allows her to take advantage of her scoring chances.

I know it’s a lofty comparison, but she plays like a young Sumar Leslie when she was just beginning her Vandebilt Catholic career.

If young Traya blossoms the same way Sumar did, then the sky is the limit.

But what separates these youngsters from the pack is their depth of talent.

Wing standout Jacey Gautreaux is just as potent as Bruce on a given day. When asked to give a comparison to the young eighth grader, coach Jason LeBoeuf said she’s a Paul George-like player. By that, he meant that Gautreaux has the ability to score both inside and out – something that she isn’t afraid to showcase in game situations.

In the paint, LCO reaps the benefits of one-two punch Victorianna Nelson and Emily Danos – each of whom can punish opponents on the inside.

Nelson is perhaps the more athletic of the duo in the post. LeBoeuf said she overcomes a lack of height with elite jumping ability. I can vouch for that. I’ve watched the budding post player for years in the South Lafourche Biddy Basketball program. Nelson definitely possesses great skill and leaping ability, which enables her to outwork opponents in the post.

Danos is more of a bruiser in the paint for LCO.

Having given herself the name, “The Enforcer,” Danos is a scrappy hustle-savvy player that always seems to be the first player to a given loose ball.

Nothing about her style of play is dirty, but she is aggressive and physical. Danos is the type of player that everyone loves to have on his or her team, but hates to play against. Sort of like a Ben Wallace-type in many respects.

But the icing on the cake to any great team is that Lady Bulldogs have a deep bench – players that both coaches praise for their ability to be ready in any circumstance whenever their numbers are called.

The team’s roster sits at 16 – all of the young ladies play if/when the score gets out of control. To see a middle school team with those kinds of numbers is pretty astonishing.

So no matter how one adds it up, it’s easy to see that a storm is brewing down the bayou.

When these youngsters get to South Lafourche High School, they will pool with other talented players from Golden Meadow Middle School and they will combine to form a squad that figures to be a very formidable foe for a number of years in Class 5A competition.

How far they’ll go in the future – who knows? That remains to be seen.

But if things continue to progress, it’s becoming obvious that these young ladies have a chance.

And for a program that has never made the state championship and that hasn’t been to the State Semifinals in 20 years, having a chance is a definite upgrade to anything that the Lady Tarpons have seen in the past several seasons.

We’ll revisit these special ladies in the future – one can be sure of it.

But let it be known right now on Dec. 18, 2013 that you heard it here first: There’s a storm brewing in South Lafourche.

Expect the rain of victories to begin in the near future.