By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Turning points to a season can come at any time, but for the Bossier Parish Community men’s basketball team, it happened before the season even started.
Decari Markray, one of the Cavaliers’ top returning players, was killed in a car accident in October, just days before the team was scheduled to begin pre-season scrimmages.
Those scrimmages were never played.
So while other teams were busy putting the finishing touches on their 2021-22 season, the Cavaliers were mourning the loss of a beloved teammate.
“We cancelled those scrimmages because we felt like it was the right thing to do,” said BPCC head coach John Anthony Anglin. “That was a decision made as a team. We didn’t get some of those early season looks that other teams got, so it was a little hectic to start off the year.”
As you might expect, once the season started it was a bit of a struggle as the Cavaliers opened 2-3. “We got off to a little bit of a rocky start,” Anglin said. “Some of that was dealing with Decari’s tragic death and part of it was because of a lack of competition we had from missing scrimmages.”
But things turned around in late November with a 65-61 win over New Mexico Junior College (the No. 8 team in the NJCAA Division 1 rankings).
That got BPCC jump-started and have now won seven of the last 10 games. But now the schedule will start to get really interesting as the Cavs will begin play in the North Division of Region XIV play.
The Cavs are 4-4 in conference play and Anglin knows what a gauntlet it is to play in the North Division, where the teams play each other twice. “It’s like playing in the SEC West in football,” he said.
First came a trip to Carthage, Texas, where BPCC was on the short end of a 83-74 outcome to Panola Junior College. The Ponies improved their record to 14-5 overall and 5-3 in the conference. After a non-conference home game against the Northwestern State JV on Monday, the next home conference game will be against Paris Junior College, currently 12-7 overall but 6-2 in the conference, on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
It’s a bit of a different look to the Cavaliers this year. A year ago, the team depended on the scoring of Paul King, who now plays at Alcorn State. This year’s BPCC team is much more balanced. The team had four players averaging in double figures – Derick Hamilton (11.3), Adrian Walker (11.3), Jaeden Marshall (10.8) and Kendrick Delahoussaye (10.8).
“It’s a little bit different this year,” Anglin said. “We relied on Paul to score last year and most nights if we didn’t get 20 (points) from him it was going to be tough. We’ve got a lot of different weapons and that’s kind of what I like about this team. We don’t have to rely on one or two guys every night.”
But it is Hamilton, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound center, who makes the Cavs go. “He’s packing a punch inside,” Anglin said “And he’s a traditional 5; he plays with his back to the basket and he has great hands and great touch.”
All this from a guy who averaged 1.1 points and 2.1 rebounds last year. This season, he is ranked No. 2 in the country in field goal percentage at 71.1 percent.
“We are showing signs of progression and moving in the right direction,” Anglin said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on and progress, but it’s been pretty positive for the last month and a half.”
But from time to time, Anglin does allow himself to think about how this team would be with Markray.
“He was the energy on the team; he was the fighter,” he said. “When we needed a bucket or needed a rebound, he would get it. We definitely miss that. He was the heart and soul of our team and we definitely miss that.”
Before the home game against Baton Rouge Community College, the team presented Markray’s mother a framed No. 13 jersey. He is still listed on the team’s roster.
“I don’t think we will ever get through it, but just take it day by day and move forward together,” Anglin said. “We play for him and his family.”
Photo: Bossier Parish center Derick Hamilton has been a force inside for the Cavs. (submitted photo)
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