Locals to battle River in all-star game

E.D. White Catholic's Ja'Dante' Frye (left) and Ellender's Gibby Talbot (right) are among the local players who will take part in Saturday night's Thibodaux Regional Medical Center Bayou vs. River Shootout at Thibodaux High School. (Photo by File photos)

What started on the football field has carried over to the basketball court.

The Bayou and River regions have sent senior all-star football players to compete against one another on the gridiron since 2006, and now the areas will send their best senior basketball players to compete with one another on the hardwood.

The first Thibodaux Regional Medical Center Bayou vs. River All-Star Shootout is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Thibodaux High School.

The Bayou team is made up of players from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, and the River team is made up of players from St. Charles, St. James, Assumption and St. John the Baptist parishes.

Admission is $5, and there will be a slam dunk and 3-point shooting competition that starts at 6 p.m.

Each team features 15 players and each player is guaranteed at least 5 minutes of playing time per half.

"I am glad these guys get one more game to showcase their stuff," said Terrebonne High coach Derek Szush, who will lead the Bayou team. "These guys get to have some fun with a ton of local talent. They have been playing against each other, now they get to play on the same team."

E.D. White Catholic's Ja'Dante' Frye, who will compete in the dunk contest, said he is expecting the Bayou squad to get up and down the floor with some quickness.

"We have a lot of guards and a lot of shooters so we can run. I like to run. It wasn't our style in high school, but I can adjust," Frye said. "It's the first time we are having it, so I'm excited to be nominated to play."

Szush said the Bayou also has players with a high level of basketball IQ.

"We are going to have a lot of speed and a lot of intelligent basketball players," Szush said. "We have smart kids. We won't be huge outside of (6-foot-9 Ellender center) Gibby (Talbot), but they can all run and all jump. We have some good shooters, so we will be able to spread some people out and make some things happen."

Riverside Academy senior Ricardo Gathers, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound Baylor commitment, is expected to play in the game for the River.

He has had scholarship offers from the likes of LSU, Syracuse, St. John's and Baylor and is regarded as a Top 40 recruit in the country and as one of the top players in the state.

"It is always fun to coach against a player like him," Szush said. "It brings out the best in your kids. I don't think any of our kids are going to be intimidated. They are aware of him and have seen him on the AAU circuit. I don't think anyone is going to back down from him."

Talbot, who scored 19 points over the weekend in the Louisiana High School Coaches Association all-star game in Alexandria, said he is excited to face Gathers.

"Ricardo is known throughout the state. You can't say his name without people knowing who he is," Talbot said. "It's going to be a great opportunity to play against him. I have never played against him before. This game is a great opportunity to showcase the talent we have around this area."

The game is sponsored by Thibodaux Regional Medical Center and is presented by the Thibodaux Lion's Club. Former Nicholls State men's basketball coach Rickey Broussard and long-time area coach Pat Parenton co-chair the event.

"Everyone has done so much extra work behind the scenes to get this thing going," Szush said. "It's not just throwing a couple of teams together and picking some coaches and going play. There is so much that goes on. But everyone has worked together, and we have to thank Thibodaux Regional for all they do for high school basketball. They are a huge sponsor of high school basketball in our area."

All recreation basketball players who wear their uniforms to the game will be admitted free, and all money made from the game goes to college scholarships and to Thibodaux Lion's Club causes such as the Lions' Cripple Children's Camp and Eye Foundation.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at Nicholls, but the NCAA recently passed a rule forbidding colleges from hosting prep all-star games as not to give those schools "unfair recruiting advantages."

For complete team rosters and a list of coaches check the bottom of Page 2B or visit bayoupreps.com.