By T. Scott Boatright
Choudrant High School’s hoops teams open their regular seasons Nov. 1 at home against Pleasant Hill.
The Aggies are coming off a 2021-22 season during which they went 20-11, defeating Florien in the first round of the Class B playoffs 71-60 before falling to Anacoco 54-32 in second-round action.
Choudrant’s girls finished at 15-12 last season, defeating District 2-B foe Weston 53-44 in the opening round of the Class B playoffs before being bumped from postseason play after a 79-42 loss at Florien.
Both the Aggies and Lady Aggies played in preseason scrimmages at Saline last Thursday. Both teams will also play in a scrimmage at Quitman on Oct. 21 and will play in the Claiborne Christian Jamboree on Oct. 28 before opening the season with a home tournament on Nov. 3-5.
Choudrant’s Homecoming games will be a doubleheader played on Nov. 18 against Downsville Charter.
Both teams will also play in the Ouachita Christian Tournament on Nov. 21-22, the St. Frederick Shootout on Dec. 5 and the West Ouachita Tournament on Dec. 7-10.
Following are previews of each squad heading into the 2021-21 season:
Choudrant will be looking to overcome the loss of three seniors from last year’s squad, including 6-2 F/G Chris Williams, who averaged 20.0 to lead the Aggies last season and is now a freshman playing for the Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds in Kansas.
The Aggies also lost longtime starters Trey Harris and Jackson Case to graduation, but do have a pair of returning players who made significant impacts last season as juniors.
Choudrant 3-point specialist Lachlan Thompson earned second team All-District 2-B and All-LPJ Second Team accolades last season after averaging 12.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assist per game.
Thompson’s long-range abilities were showcased during a 78-55 win over Quitman last season when he netted six 3-point shots and led the Aggies with 26
Parker Batterton is the other key returning senior for Choudrant after averaging 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game as a junior.
Seniors Hunter McKoin and juniors Eli Callendar and Michael Hunter also return and will be asked to step up their games this season.
The Lady Aggies lost two key seniors off of last year’s team — Kylie Portilloz, the District 2-B Most Valuable Player who averaged 17.4 points, 14.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 2.2 steals and 0.7 blocked shots per game last season.
Portilloz is now playing for the South Arkansas Community College Stars.
The Lady Aggies also have to place departed senior Aly Thomas, who averaged 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last year.
But CHS girls head Geoffrey Underwood does have a quartet of players who contributed while gaining solid experience last season and will be asked to step up their games this season.
Two of those are seniors — Heather Murphy and Mattie Johnson, who averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
“Those two will be a big part of that faster game we’re hoping to be able to utilize this season,” UInderwood said. “They both picked up important playing experience last season and we’re going to be looking at them to provide leadership for the team, too.
Junior Brelyn Pyle was a sharpshooting long-range specialist for the Lady Aggies last season, nailing four 3-pointers and leading Choudrant with 26 points in a game against Class 5A West Ouachita.
“If we can get her to continue improving on those 3-pointers, she could become a really important part of our offense,” Underwood said about Pyle. “In fact, that’s something we’ll probably end up needing, so we’re counting on that.”I
The Lady Aggies also have lost sophomore Zoey Smith, who has decided to focus on her role for the Choudrant softball team.
That combined with the loss of Portilloz leaves a big hole in the post for the Lady Aggies, but Underwood is hopeful a pair of newcomers might fill at least some of that void.
“We have Abby Frazier, a sophomore, that we’ll have to ask to jump into things and step up for us,” Underwood said.
The Lady Aggies also return a pair of senior centers to try and replace Portilloz’s dominance in the post in Abby Johnston and Emma Thorn.
Underwood also has high hopes for Alivia Hester, a sophomore who played for Simsboro last season but has transferred to Choudrant.
“Her father (Adrian Hester) was the girls basketball coach at Simsboro last year, but when he didn’t return to coach there, that meant she had to come to Choudrant, where they live,” Underwood said. “So she has that good basketball pedigree and we have high hopes of her stepping in and filling that void for us for a few years.”
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