A look back at the some of the best athletic performances and achievements by Sulphur, Sam Houston, Westlake and Vinton High School in 2019.
On November 25th, long-time Sulphur girls basketball head coach Helen Lefevre hit another milestone, winning her 800th game with a 55-21 victory over Vinton in her 36th and final season. She reached 700 in 2014.
Over 36 seasons at Starks, LaGrange and Sulphur, Lefevre has coached in 1,153 games and won 70.3 percent of her games (811-342).
During her career, Lefevre has won 13 district championships, 11 district coach of the year and two state coach of the year awards. Lefevre has averaged 22.7 wins per season with 28 20-win seasons and only one losing season. Her teams have missed the playoffs only two times.
She started her career at Starks High School in 1984 and led the Lady Panthers for four seasons, including a state championship in 1987.
Lefevre then took the top job at her alma mater, LaGrange (Class of 1978), and coached the Lady Gators for eight seasons that included three quarterfinal births and one trip to the semifinals in 1989.
She came to Sulphur in 1996 and has led the Lady Tors to eight district championships and two semifinal runs (1998, 2013).
District champs and No. 1 seed twice
The Sam Houston girls basketball team put together a stellar 2018-2019 season. Sam Houston wrapped up an undefeated run through District 3-5A with a 51-41 win over No. 4 LaGrange February 8th led by 24 points from current McNeese State guard Kyla Hamilton.
It was the Lady Broncos’ first district championship since moving to Class 5A in 2011. Sam Houston earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A playoffs but lost to No. 9 and eventual state champion Captain Shreve 61-48 in the quarterfinals.
Sam Houston finished with a 29-4 record after losing to the Gators in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.
Following the lead of its basketball team, the Sam Houston softball team won its seventh consecutive District 3-5A championship and went into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.
Sam Houston clinched the district crown on April 3rd with a 7-6 come-from-behind win over Barbe. Down 4-0 with two outs in the second inning, Maddie Pourciaux hit a two-run double, and Kimber Hamilton hit a RBI triple and scored on a double by Jilyen Poullard.
Pouciaux scored the go-ahead run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Jenny Griggers. But also like the basketball team, Sam Houston (28-4) lost in the quarterfinals, losing to No. 8 Walker 8-2.
Back-to-back district champs
The Vinton boys basketball team won its second consecutive District 5-2A championship in 2019. The Lions went 9-1 in district play with its lone loss coming to Pickering, who shared the district title with the Lions.
Vinton wrapped up its share of the title with a dominating 95-54 win over Rosepine on February 15 led by a 29-point performance by guard Drew Heinen.
First playoff win
After a couple of close calls, the Sulphur girls soccer team finally tasted postseason success 22 years after the program started.
On February 1, Sulphur beat Thibodaux 2-1 in the bidistrict round of the Division I playoffs.
With the scored tied 1-1 in the 67th minute, senior forward Chelsea Brown scored on a 30-yard direct kick. She had tied the game just two minutes earlier, also on a direct kick.
Playoff win drought ended
For the first time since 2015, the Sulphur softball team won a playoff game with an 11-3 upset of Dutchtown on the road in the bidistrict round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Sulphur rallied from a 2-0 deficit thanks to a three-run home run by Abi Massey, her 10th of the season, in the fifth inning.
Sulphur won 15 of its last 17 regular-season games to get into the playoffs.
Sulphur’s Kate Turner and Breanna Verdine set school records during the 2019 season.
Turner, whose older sister Hannah Jackson holds several school records, broke the school mark in the long jump several times with a top distance of 18 feet, 1½ inches at the District 3-5A meet.
Verdine set the school record in the triple jump at the Region 1-5A meet on April 26th at Northwestern State University. Her distance of 36 feet, 6½ inches broke the old record of 36-3 set by Cierra Wilson in 2015.
District track champions
The Sulphur boys track team won its first district championship since 2016 with 53 points over the final seven events.
The key was the performance of Matt Holmes and Jonathon Arreola, who finished second and third in the 3200-meter run. The 14 points allowed the Tors to take a 108-100 lead over two-time defending district champ Barbe.
Westlake brought home four gold medals from the LHSAA Class 3A track and field championships in Baton Rouge on April 4th.
Junior Keonda Johnson won two of those gold medals in the long and triple jump. She beat defending champ Dreunna Washington (North Webster) by a quarter of an inch in the long jump (17-5¼) and won the triple jump with a mark of 36 feet, 8½ inches.
Xavier Goodly won the boys triple jump state championship (45-11½) and was the runner up in the long jump (21-10¾).
Brock Meyer won the pole vault (15-3) state championship to extend Westlake’s streak in the event to three years.
State runner up
The Sam Houston Broncos final broke through the Class 5A semifinals but lost 8-2 to District 3-5A rival Barbe in the finals in a game that was delayed three days due to severe weather on May 14.
Sam Houston led twice in the first two innings when Keagan Aaron scored on a wild pitch and Braden Duhon hit a two-out RBI single. But Barbe scored six unanswered runs, including a 3-run home run by 5A tournament MVP Brody Drost.
Sam Houston finished the season 36-5 with its first state runner up title since 2009.
Will Thompson and Alex Norris combined to pitch a perfect game in the first round of the playoffs.
Sulphur High School’s Kolby Stelly and Brooklyn Gunter combined to win three state championships at the 2019 Louisiana High School Finals Rodeo at the Burton Coliseum in June.
Stelly, a sophomore, won his second consecutive bull riding state title, beating Jace Trosclair 114.65 to 74. He also won a state title in boys cutting.
Gunter won her second state pole bending championship in three years despite having to ride a backup horse.
Westlake’s Keonda Johnson and Xavier Goodly each won their second consecutive Cagle Award in June as Calcasieu Parish’s top field athletes.
Johnson won the Class 3A outdoor long and triple jump state championship and the Division II indoor long jump state title.
Goodly won the Division II indoor triple jump and was the runner up in the long jump. He ended the outdoor season with a state title in the triple jump and a runner up in the long jump. He also set a school record in the long jump at 24 feet at the Taussig Relays.
In just one season with the Sam Houston Broncos, Cameron Meeks won just about every award possible. He started with the District 3-5A MVP, Louisiana Sports Writers Class 5A MVP, American Press All-Southwest big school MVP and finished it off with the 2019 LSWA Mr. Baseball award as the state’s most outstanding player.
He went 10-0 with a 0.69 earned run average to lead the Broncos to the Class 5A state title game. It was the Broncos first state championship game appearance since 2009.
Meeks struck out 78 batters in 61 innings.
He was also a threat at the plate with a .405 batting average, 15 doubles, four triples, 5 home runs and 51 RBIs.
Sam Houston’s Jilyen Poullard was named the 2019 American Press female Outstanding athlete of the Year.
The two-sport star led the Broncos to the No. 1 seed in softball and basketball while earning Louisiana Sports Writer Association Class 5A all-state, American Press All-Southwest and District 3-5A first-team honors in both sports.
Poullard finished with five doubles, six triples, 33 runs scored, 29 RBIs, a .522 batting average and a .915 fielding percentage.
On the hardwood, Poullard helped led Sam Houston to a 29-4 record while averaging 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals a game and was the District 3-5A MVP and second-team all-state.
Sulphur High School’s Alyssa Navarre was named the 2019 American Press female Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Navarre wrapped up her high school career with a 4.15-grade point average and a 28 ACT score while taking several advanced and dual-enrollment classes at McNeese State University.
She also earned Louisiana High School Athletic Association All-Academic composite team honors in basketball and track. Navarre ranked 11th in her graduating class of 435.
Navarre will attend Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, with the hopes of graduating and getting into the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She will also play basketball for the Majors.
On the track, Navarre placed second in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs and third in the 3,200 at the District 3-5A meet.
Volleyball district champs
Sam Houston moved up to Division I this season and responded by winning its first district championship since 2014.
The Lady Broncos beat Sulphur, who was trying to win its first district title since 2003, 25-17, 25- 22, 19-25, 25-20 to win the title on October 29th.
Sulphur took a 14-9 lead in the fourth set on a kill by middle hitter Erika Whittington. Sam Houston used a 5-0 run to tie it at 14-14 and took a 20-19 lead on a Sulphur hitting error. Sulphur pulled within two points but Alania Bartie hit a powerful shot from the middle and Maggie Cox added a kill for a 24-20 lead. Emma Gentry and Bartie scored the match point by blocking an attack by Whittington.
Jordan Cochran led Sam Houston with a match-high 14 kills. Sam Houston advanced
After getting knocked out in the quarterfinals of the state volleyball tournament three of the last four seasons, Westlake finally reached the semifinals for the first time in program history in November.
Westlake (32-11) beat Lutcher 25-17, 25-18, 20-25, 25-15 in the Division III quarterfinals. The Rams were led by Keonda Johnson with 12 kills and 15 digs, and Catherine Armentor, who had 11 kills and 14 digs.
Westlake lost to E.D. White 25-15, 25-10, 25- 17 in the semifinals.
Broncos beat Bucs
For the first time in program history, Sam Houston’s football team beat Barbe on October 11th.
Junior Davis Dow kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired for the 31-28 win.
Quarterback Kyle Bartley ran for 152 yards and threw for 215. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for another. Wide receiver Tavyen Grice caught six passes for 106 yards.
Westlake senior guard Jada Gasaway scored her 1,000th career point on November 25th in a 50-42 win over Grand Lake.
The Southern Arkansas signee hit the mark with 1:27 left in the first quarter on a jumper just outside the lane to put the Rams up 9-5. Gasaway finished with a game-high 23 points.
National runner up
Sulphur native Shane Hanchey nearly won his second tie-down championship at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December. Hanchey was edged by rookie cowboy Haven Meged (Miles City, Montana) by just under $1,200. Meged finished with $246,018.45 to Hanchey’s $244,831.54.
He entered the 10th round with a $6,000-plus lead over Riley Pruitt (Gering, Nebraska) despite a no-time in the second round.
Hanchey tied his best time of the 2019 WNFR at 7.1 seconds on Saturday, and that would have been enough to give him his second gold buckle had Adam Gray (Seymour, Texas) not posted a 7.1 as well. Instead of the $26,230.77 for winning the round, which would have been enough to give Hanchey the title, he had to split the first and second place winnings with Gray.
His $23,480.77 split and $11,432.08 for placing seventh in the average left him $1,186.91 short of Meged.
It is Hanchey’s best finish at the WNFR since winning the tie-down roping world title in 2013.
Records on the gridiron
Sam Houston’s trio of quarterback Kyle Bartley and receiver Tavyen Grice and Luke Yuhasz put up some eye-popping numbers in 2019.
It is believed that the trio now owns just about every school single-season and career record at their respective positions.
Bartley completed 250 of 389 passes for 3,334 yards and 41 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
Tavyen Grice caught 124 passes for 1,615 yards and 13 touchdowns and Yuhasz, a converted quarterback, caught 58 passes for 1,020 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Grice finished his career with 179 catches for 2,372 yards and 20 touchdowns. The next closest Bronco receiver since 1991 is Skylar Barentine (2007-08, 88 rec., 1,146 yards, 9 TDs).
In three seasons as the Broncos’ starter, Bartley completed 480 of 812 passes for 6,684 yards, 68 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. The next best totals since 1991 were by Orlan Lockhart (2007-09, 252-463-21, 3,527 yards, 22 TDs).