Ellender boys bracing for postseason
Mon. February 20, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. | By Kelly McElroy/Staff Writer
Ellender seniors Houston Chatman (33) and Gibby Talbot (40) look to lead the Patriots deep into the Class 4A playoffs this season. Ellender hosts Plaquemine in a first-round playoff game at 7 p.m. Tuesday. (Photo by Michael Conti/Staff)
A quick walk into or around the main gym at Ellender High School reveals evidence of past basketball teams done well — extremely well.
Old newspaper articles about those boys and girls clubs fill the walls, along with photos of state championship teams, and a trophy case with barely enough room for even one more trophy.
The round-ball tradition at Ellender is strong. In boys action in the last six seasons before this one, Ellender has a state runner-up title, two quarterfinal appearances and qualified for the second round of the playoffs three times.
Now this year's boys team is hoping to build on that success.
The 22-8 Patriots will open this season's Class 4A playoffs by hosting Plaquemine at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"We are where we expected to be," Ellender coach Scott Gauthreaux said. "We didn't accomplish our goal of winning the (District 8-4A) championship, but we started the season knowing it wasn't going to be a perfect season. Our goal was to start to peak during the district season, and I think we have done that."
Gauthreaux said belief in team will be key. The same kind of belief that almost helped the Patriots upset Peabody in the second round of the playoffs last season.
Peabody escaped Houma with a 66-60 win and ended up the Class 4A runner-up.
"Everybody has to buy in," Gauthreaux said. "Last season, when those guys walked onto the floor, every one of those guys believed they could (beat Peabody). They had that on their minds. We just couldn't pull it out. We just have to be better than that team we play every night in the playoffs, or we are going home. You have to put your heart and soul into it."
The catalysts for the Patriots this season have been 6-foot-9 center Gibby Talbot and 6-2 guard Houston Chatman, two of the three seniors on the club.
Talbot, who is being recruited by a number of state schools, said his main focus right now is on trying to help the Patriots win a state championship.
He is averaging 23.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and two blocks a game this season and said he will make a decision on which college he will attend after the playoffs.
"If you go back and look at the games we lost, we did have a couple of letdowns, but most of them have been close games. The question of effort has never been there," Talbot said. "I feel like we have put ourselves in a good position."
Talbot said the Patriots will just have to keep things the same for the playoffs.
"I think it will mainly be remembering how we got here and playing as a team," Talbot said. "We can't get caught up in the playoff hype. Somewhere down the line we will have to face a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed. We can't go in there with the mind set that they are unbeatable. We have to go in there with the confidence that we have been playing with all year. We want to see how far we can take it."
Chatman, who has also received some interest from some colleges, is averaging 18.9 points a game, 5.6 rebounds a game, 5.4 assists a game and 2.6 steals a contest.
"The season really went well, and our teammates really came around," Chatman said. "We played together over the summer and really developed some chemistry. The more and more we practiced, the better we got. Now we know how to find each other and what each other is capable of doing."
Gauthreaux said when the Patriots made the finals of the Sunkist Tournament in Lafayette (Dec. 30), he started seeing the team come together. The Patriots are 11-2 since falling to St. Thomas More in the finals.
"I started seeing it come together after we lost to White Castle in our tournament, and when went to the finals of the Sunkist Tournament. I started seeing a lot of maturity on the team," Gauthreaux said. "That's when I saw them really become a team, and I realized we can do something special this year."
Cameron Parfait (11.5 points a game), point guard Jaylan Coleman, Centrell Allridge, Chaz Williams and Jarred Turner are other key contributors for the Patriots.
"Everyone has roles to play, even Gibby and Houston," Gauthreaux said. "Every one has to accept and understand their roles, and everyone has stepped up. We may not have the depth we have had in the past, but our goal is to be the best team we can be. I am pleased where we are at this time. I think we have maximized our potential this year and hopefully our potential will carry us deep into the playoffs."