By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports
If Paul Kelly was contemplating the 2018-19 prep basketball season for his De La Salle team following losses to Dunham and Holy Cross over the first five days of the season, the Cavaliers’ veteran coach soon discovered the answer.
The campaign would be a typical one under Kelly’s tutelage. The Cavaliers responded by winning 19 of 28 games and a fourth consecutive District 10-3A championship.
The early losses to Dunham, the No. 1 seed in the LHSAA Division III tournament, and to Catholic League co-champion Holy Cross came against obviously quality opponents.
And even district play proved to be a challenge to the Cavaliers, who lost to two league opponents, Donaldsonville (22 wins) and Lusher Charter (20 wins). Both losses were at the opponents’ gyms.
De La Salle lost just once at home.
Kelly, who is also the school’s principal, had his team ready for the district showdown when the Cavaliers broke a first-place tie with Donaldsonville by handing the Tigers a 67-49 loss to claim the district title and cement his accolades as Coach of the Year on the Clarion Herald’s Elite Boys’ Basketball Team.
Jesuit’s sharpshooting point guard Elijah Morgan capped off his senior campaign by being named the Outstanding Player at the Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO and Chalmette Valero tournaments for leading the Blue Jays to championship trophies in both of the December classics.
His back-to-back 32-point performances in the Chalmette semifinal and championship rounds highlighted Morgan’s exceptional year.
One of three repeat honorees to the Elite Team, Morgan was the District 9-5A coaches’ choice as the Catholic League’s Most Valuable Player even though Jesuit finished in third place behind co-champions St. Augustine and Holy Cross.
Also returning as Elite Team honorees are De La Salle’s Abiram Frye and Jason Chan of Holy Cross, a pair of exceptional senior guards.
Two other senior standouts from St. Augustine are recognized for their outstanding play that led to the Purple Knights to a share of the district title: Devon Jefferson, adept at scoring and rebounding, and point guard Damon Landry, through whom the offense started.
Holy Cross’ 6-4 senior forward Kalil Thomas was highly regarded by the district coaches for his leadership on the co-champion Tigers team.
And one star of the future emerged for Archbishop Shaw in freshman guard Isiah Barnes, whom coach Wesley Laurendine feels has a bright future as one of his young Eagles.